Empowering Theatres: Going Beyond Productions

Because good theatre is reflective of our humanity, audiences often experience calcified perspectives cracking and shifting toward enlightened ones — and find themselves having significant conversations after seeing plays. Because theatre is also grown from our humanity, the process of creating a production can be just as powerful as experiencing it as a spectator. During rehearsals, souls of artists expand in unexpected ways to meet the needs of character journeys. Theatre-making minds tackle history, obstacles and reality itself to enter into the other-world of a play. On some lucky occasions — when theatre makers are brave enough and trained guidance is present, healing and empowerment happen all around — for both theatre-makers and theatre-goers.


Austin is fortunate to have multiple groups doing this kind of purposeful, community-centric theatre work. Companies range in the circumstances against which they push — from addiction, abuse, harrassment and homelessness to being othered for immigration status, poverty, race or sexual identity. This profile series serves to let you know these companies are out there in their communities working with compassion and providing help that often goes beyond “play making” into long-term relationships of caring and support. Watch this space to get to know a new group every quarter!

Proyecto Teatro

ProyectoTEATRO goes beyond being a theater company, it serves as a cultural organization and a social project with the mission of promoting and preserving Latin American culture through the arts in Spanish. ProyectoTeatro's vision is to make the arts accessible to the entire community, with a focus on the Latino population, in order to reduce the sociocultural differences of today's society.

Located in downtown Austin, Texas, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) was boosted in the 1990s by the city's Chicano vote and activism, which finally saw the end of its construction in 2008. .

Designed by renowned Mexican architect Teodoro González de León, the ESB-MACC is the official home of ProyectoTEATRO and other artistic organizations. The LARP (Latino Arts Residency Program) artist residency, founded in 2013, offers use of the facilities in exchange for rich cultural programming for Austin's Latino and Hispanic community. ProyectoTEATRO will celebrate its 2nd residency with a theatrical billboard of 4 more plays, a new arts academy, a series of master classes, and endless cultural events — all presented in Spanish!

ProyectoTEATRO is always looking for Spanish-speaking actors, dancers, singers, and artists for their works on the billboard and cultural projects. The "audition" process of ProyectoTEATRO is different from the conventional one since the artistic director takes into account the human energy and the creative chemistry that is required to be able to develop original works on stage.

ProyectoTEATRO invites all artists interested in participating and collaborating with the company to contact us to coordinate their visit to the studio. They will be invited to participate in a training class, rehearsal, or creative session to explore their artistic interests, abilities, gifts, and dreams.

At the moment all work of ProyectoTEATRO is suspended until further notice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as it is prudent, we will return to the studio and resume the 2020 card.

If you are interested in participating with ProyectoTEATRO, send a message to info@proyectoteatro.com and we will be in communication as soon as we return to the stage.


Day of the Dead at the Pantheon: Tombs, theater, music and opera! ProyectoTEATRO invites all of Austin to witness the “3rd Fandango of the Dead”, a mystical night in the shadows of the San José Pantheon, where the community can be part of the authentic traditions of the Day of the Dead to honor the memories of our loved ones, with theatrical and musical presentations under the stars, decorating the graves with thousands of natural marigold flowers and candles. We invite you to characterize yourself as a skull and to bring a blanket if you like to sit in the cemetery. Day of the Dead in the Cemetery: Tombs, theater, music, and opera! ProyectoTEATRO invites all of Austin to experience the “3rd Fandango de los Muertos”, a mystical evening in the candle-lit San José Cemetery in East Austin, where the entire community can take part in the authentic traditions of Day of the Dead. From decorating tombstones with thousands of marigolds and candles to theatrical and musical performances that honor the memories of our loved ones, this under-the-stars event is unlike any in the city. Come dressed in your best Day of the Dead inspired creation and bring a blanket if you wish to sit down on the grounds.

Join our team of volunteers!
To make the festival happen, we need all the hands we can get! We need YOU! We are looking for volunteers that can take over the various stations throughout the cemetery and guide attendees through different activities. From the tombstone decoration station to the Day of the Dead bread area, choose a shift and be part of this amazing experience. Volunteers get a free commemorative festival shirt! Click the link below to sign up 

Thank you for being a cultural investor and supporting the Spanish-language Arts of Austin. ProyectoTEATRO is a 501 c3 non-profit organization and all donations and contributions are tax-deductible.

mask shop: https://proyectoteatro.com/tienda

https://vimeo.com/402824928 "For The Wetbacks" or "Por Los Mojados" 2015

ProyectoTeatro is a theatre company, a cultural organization, and a social project with the mission to preserve and promote the Latin-American culture through the performing arts in Spanish, providing a source of transformative arts education and quality cultural entertainment.

ProyectoTeatro is committed to making the arts accessible to all sectors of the community, disregarding economic levels, in order to reduce the cultural disparities in our society.

In the fall of 2014, PTJ was formed in order give young performers with extraordinary talent a professional platform where they could continue to develop their artistic training. Most of all the 12 actors that form PTJ have been training in stage theatre and contemporary dance with ProyectoTeatro for the last 7 years. They were hand-selected from over 60 children out of the company's outreach programs not only because of their advanced level of artistic capacity, but more importantly, because these young students bestow the characteristics needed to be professional artists: Discipline, drive, talent, and true passion for their work.


Luis Armando Ordaz Gutiérrez - Director Ejecutivo y Artístico // Executive & Artistic Director 

Guicha Gutiérrez - Co-Fundadora, Asesora Cultural, y Directora de Vestuario // Co-Founder, Cultural Advisor, and Head of Costume 

Lizet Lara Aceves - Directora de Educación // Education Director

Reno Bostick - Asistente Administrativo // Administrative Assistant

Hector Ordaz - Director de Audiovisual // Audiovisual Director

Yarisel Estrada - Asistente de Producción // Production Assistant

Abraham Martinez - Técnico // Technician




La Casa de ProyectoTeatro // The home of ProyectoTeatro

En el verano del 2013, ProyectoTeatro fue seleccionada como una de las cuatro compañías residentes para radicar dentro del prestigioso Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, localizado en el centro de Austin. La residencia tiene una duración de 3 años durante la cual ProyectoTeatro presentará todas sus producciones de cartelera y sus programas educativos en sus instalaciones.  


In the summer of 2013, ProyectoTeatro was selected as one of four resident companies to be housed at the prestigious Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, located in the heart of downtown Austin. The residency spans 3 years in which ProyectoTeatro will present all of its mainstage productions and educational programming in the ESB-MACC's facility. 

My mom was a trained dancer at the Bellasartes, national institute of fine arts of mexico (mexico julliard)  She danced with when mom was training with Ballet Folklorico, Amalia Hernandez so my mom danced in a field / cinder blocks in a half circle for prisoners that were released from prison by my brave grandmother. Grandma Catalina produced theatre and dance events in fields for prisoners she saved. I have my grandmother in me, though I did no Though now Amalia is deemed a cultural appropriateor she would condense and interperet actual mexican culture into a showy ribbon dress situation.  3-minute versions of 3-day festivals. 

i came here for my brother's physical therapy brother had cerebral palsey. She came here iwth. 3kids a dancer. ended. upcleaningng houses and offices and working restaruants  - we cleaned with her in formative years. Living growing up as an immigrant, I've come to terms with the fact that 

i left inertnationsl school of texas because . cleaned the desks at fancy schools -- i had to clean the desks mifddle brother was buff, so he vacuumed, mom did bathrooms. the struggles of immigrant community are so real to me, i want to lok out for them. I. wsa t a fancy private school, but i could not stay. I knew what was happening out therel -- could not stay. it's non-negotiable. I have to create opportunities for immigrant children and artists and the diasporah community. We have a different experience here. and people don't see us. My crazy art mom would sew costumes for me, let me use her make up  -- she was all about the arts, she taught me thow to dance in the living room. I had amazing oppotunities from my mom's open mind and hear. for me to provide a connections iwth the culture through art -- a form to express myself 

our team is so driven to have the best quality arts experience . my mom is the head of costumes. my brother is the tech guy. vaccuum broth is the tech guy.  

the family dynamcis are intersting, but so grateful because since we lived the same journey growing up tehre are no blanks to fill in. We starte each project together. 

all programs are absolutely free. these families don'thave gas. they need support with social services. wraparound services -- we don't even have to talk abou it. facilitate arts accessibility. toimmigrant children. my mom makes every costume to size to fit the body doing the part . they go through costume training -- how to build a costume, they know what find your light is, . of course, we have laughed when our stuents go to schools and the costumes don't fit properly! ahhahaha. 

maybe we over-love and care for our students, but we give them the good make up we give them the good costumes. they get the best. she wants to give them the best. just like she wished she could do for us. Down to fake eyelashes. 

community center: 

because of ht way we wor , we have been in different places. we're opening up a southwest key immigrationservice oprganization -- us. gov detains unaccompanied minors at the border for 36 hours ish. southwest key has sheltered for unaccompanied minors. their headwuarters are here. we've been partenrred for 8 years. iwththem for the del valle community.  in a space, that was. aschool, we are turning it into. El Centro -- we are leading the center -- going from one room/one office to 8 rooms visioning the whole facility. 

Had a residentcy at. theMACC, and will still perform there, but our programming won't be there

being authentically true to our community

city of austin shut down our production because of hte name. Los mojados -- we fought it, and the event went forward. 30 brown moms came to talk to city employees, our protest 

we are representing our community. and you can't sensor it. we came up with that name together -- the children shose. thename. you can't sensor it. this is. ourcommunity . 

not a good situation - go ridicuous. i had to protect us from aggressive employees.  Macc staff was not allowed to talk to us.  I went to high school with Lori Navarette .

set up coffee with luis and lara - bad history there - ned to go where the love is -- our kids and families are telling us we don't wnat to do 

Davis Elementary only mexican kid there in 1991 murchison middle school and anderson high school

we had spent a lot of time alone since she had to wokr so much, so started college in mexico city, but the artistic directory of proyecto teatro stepped down, and the board asked. meto tak eover the company  I had grown up. inthe company, founded  alex pedemonte stage director from peru. i took over sets/costumes and make up as a 14yo since i was. avisual artists. i driected a progduction at age 18 at the paramount!  I had no idea what I was doing but just did. it-- thank you grandma! So I dropped out of college and have been artistic director since 2008 -- made partnership with southwest key. that was the cornerstone partnership. i have an instict, drivin by passion, and we figure it out. 

trump / children in cages:  that's what pushed us to create that - teh kdis were asking when do we get. todo a professional show? We want posters and postcards. They asked for it Por los m 3 students wen. tothe border to volunteer in shelters, we met iwth lawyers, we met with consulates, we researched for 6 months so we prepared like journalists to build the piece. It was interesting to see how children process the rhetoric from trump and the media -- teh love of f questions: why are minor immigrans being criminalized.? let' slokk at it objectviely from facts and history -- and then figure out what we thing -- not just regurgigate 

why? why are children crossing with drugs? why? digging deep into the realities of immiigrant life -- it was unbiased -- these are 10 years old, s tey are learning that bananaas are from nicaragua and the US invatded in the 40s and now Chiwquita banana is a us company -- the little sticker has everything to do with why peopel in nicaragua ar epoor. They weren't  internalizing the hate during theprocess. They understood it and got it in the performance. As researchies it was objective: whyare countries poor? hat is the rol of the us int he povergyo f latin america?  Afte resrearch, we started rehearsing and poured into where teh gold and silver went -- they played colonizers and incas rather than cowboys and idians.  in. theplayin gof it, , we were trying to put all our reseach into the play. we didn't know what we had created until opening night.  thankfully, i have descalation training -- the moment they performed it live, they felt it. -- they became the characters and they leaned and they flew! thier technical skill of how to pull another body -- we had put al lthe work in -- and it became full of truth on opening.  we were coveredin mud and could not stop crying - catharisis for their parents, for their community. trauma as kids, we don't want. toexplor trauma. such a cathartic opening -- teh tears nad joy of being alive in thier  -- they had to come to terms iwth their immigarion stories -- the parents had not even shared teh stories -- some of those stoie came out in the talk-backs. : we witnessed one man sharing that he lost his brother literally crossing the rio grande. Seeing hte connections int hat family . it encourages generations to share with each other which strengthens the family 

 how do i replicate my experience for children -- imigrants protect their children from the rough realities.  this process grounds the families and decreaesees the generationsal divide -- from not speaking spanish as kids (on purpose) to no talking about embarrassing 

in 2016, two of our parents were detained - -we were going to tour the show, but we 

one of our families. hadan uncle on death row, and the whole commnity of our class helped the one mom to navigate an executtion. when. theparents were detained, we had to figure out hand help them decide who woudl get rlega guardianship. they grew up privilagedin stabel homes mostly -- in comparison to their parents, they lived a privilaged life.  our students had a social and intellectual awakening during our show and evne more so in witnessing the world afterward. the phrase THE POWER OF ART falls show often, but in the caseof our company, it includes al lof life. as does art.  some of our students have disorder been taggeds as learning disorders -- we did a shwo about 

i'm. ahistory buff/research buff -- buildt that into out r work -- so you ahve a child who was dyslexic and now passing reading test wth flying colors --  being fbilingual presetns sometimes as resading hesitancy. scripts give literacy compreention a great hook. Tehese dchildren with learning disorders are digging around in libraries and istoy books to find the good s for the play theya re writing -- it's making learning fun andintersting

we tailor devides theatre absed on who is in the room and learnign and  research and amplifyin git it's devidsed theater but taken. tos the next level -- educaitonal theatre but it doens't feel that way. they want 8 books from each library visit and do idea boards and reasechi boards. 

I ask thewm what they want to learn about one time they said DRUGS -- and i went oooh gosh, okay! let's do it! and. welearnied abll about it, and now thaey know all that -- can can go to pharmacy or drug prevention sof a milion differen things. 

how do you put the metrics of suscce

strong reserach driven componen wtihouty the stress of success measures there are children are exposed to in instituatioalixed lieearing. the wya i work and the way dvised theater works, sometimes, there's anew monologuy the night before iopeonign and they can do it. 

2015 EROS adult company : erotic project that sees exuality and fetishes that sees secual behavior thorugh cutlture history and sociaology =-  with the adult actors, we dibve into ad subject and explore and decise

cast is all immigrants, and they develop work in their language.  tailors experiencto each person hhhin the cast that is profound. inthe momrnt they perform it. -- because it's from them. How childhood trauma is connected to our sexual -- we had the children play our young selves.  MaCC did. notwant that show at the MACC. 

how do we take on these conversations whether the city wants us to or not/

respects children to bring them into a guided conversation about all these real life issues rather than "protecing" them and thereby allowing them. tobe ignoralnt and then be the recipient of trauma themselves.  talk and give tools to identify and have the didfffiuclt conversation now instead of wating it's too late.

wehn you allow the artists to connect their lived expoeorences iwth what we're prer

the cosmic race - mexican hitler - 30 page essay called the 5th race -- about being bicultural -- interracial culture and misxing - controversial doign the full-length project next year. 

I ask them what they 

adult actors are crew for youth company shows. andyouth are crew for the adult company shows. 

Adult company: