REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES will open the second season of the recently re-christened Garry Marshall Theatre on October 10, 2018. We had the chance to chat with the busy Blanca Araceli, one of the five in the all-female ensemble of REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Blanca.
What forces of nature brought your talents to REAL WOMEN?
I met Josefina López in 2010 when I went to see a show at CASA 0101, and started teaching dance in her theater. She invited me to audition for a couple of her plays. Later she mentioned that auditions were going to be at the Pasadena Playhouse for REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES, and I got the part of Carmen. I immediately fell in love with the play.
What works of Josefina are you familiar with, either on stage or in film?
I had the opportunity to work on her play A CAT NAMED MERCY and REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES a couple of times, among others; and I took several of her workshops.
Would you describe your character that you play in REAL WOMEN?
Just as any Latina mother that comes from their country with the dream to find a better live for their families. She has strong values, tradition and, at the same time, feels she's the pillar of the family. Works hard to keep things going, and just like any other mother, tends to be a bit dramatic or manipulative when it's convenient. Extremely funny, open minded in many ways and loves chisme (gossip)!
Does this character remind you of anyone you know in your personal life?
My mom, my aunties, and many moms that I know, especially Latinas.
You've done over forty plays. You said you played Carmen before?
Yes, I played Carmen before at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2015. In 2016, we did a series of readings for schools, in which I played the same role.
What shows have you seen at the Garry Marshall Theatre (formerly the Falcon)?
This is my first time at this theater acting or as an audience.
You were the voice of Emcee in the Oscar-winning Coco. I know voice work sometimes is recorded without everyone involved in the particular scene. Did you record Emcee by yourself or with some of the performers you introduced?
I recorded the voice first. Then they showed me the final image of the character. I was told that it got the shape based on my voice. I recorded along with the directors and the producer.
How long after you did your recordings, did you actually get to experience the finished Coco on the big screen?
I recorded in January of 2017, and got invited to the premiere on November 8 at El Capitan Theater.
I couldn't believe I was crying watching a cartoon. What was your initial reaction to Coco?
I was so happy and honored to be able to share with the world our great tradition, folklore and culture. Mexico is the real winner in this movie.
You've been the director and choreographer for Tierra Blanca Dance Company since 1996. What changes have you noticed in the Los Angeles dance and theatre community in the twenty-something years since you started?
In 1996, there were few Mexican dance companies. I was not aware of all the great diversity that there was in L.A. But, now with all the media, a lot of different Mexican Folk companies were formed, and we get to know other cultures through their folk dance companies. People are more aware of the different cultures. This helps people to understand where other people come from and, therefore, more barriers are down once you get to see and understand a country with a dance.
You're the choreographer for the short Jalisco. When did you start learning your traditional folklorico dancing?
When I was 17 years old, at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas in Guadalajara. I belonged to the Ballet Folkorico de las Americas.
Did you want to be a dancer or an actor when you were growing up? Or both?
I wanted to be a lawyer, but I started dancing. Dancing took me to acting.
Any plans to revive your one-woman show that you played at the Bohemian Café?
Yes, actually I am writing and working on my first one-woman show in English. Hopefully in 2019, I will have it ready.
And what's next for you, Blanca Araceli?
In theater, I just finished doing the Short and Sweet festival on September 28, 29 and 30. Then comes Pastorela El Ermitaño in December 2018, and TOO MANY TAMALES also in December 2018. As choreographer, I am working with The Rogue Company in their current play. SEñOR PLUMMER'S FINAL FIESTA, still running with several shows with my dance company to celebrate dia de muertos (October and November). And, finally, I got booked in the role of Carmen for a production that will take place in Texas in the spring of 2019.
Thank you again for your time, Blanca!
For ticket availability and show schedule through November 18, 2018; log onto GarryMarshallTheatre.org