By Lauren Jurgemeyer
The Black and Latino Playwrights Celebration (formerly known as the Black and Latino Playwrights Conference) or BLPC is just one of the ways that Texas State Theatre is increasing representation and inclusivity for minorities.
Jonathan Acosta, a sophomore theatre student, has been a participant in the BLPC for the past two years. In 2018, he was cast in the play LeRoach’s Lament by Ruben C. Gonzalez, which was one of the plays being workshopped during the conference. When he was invited back for the 2019 celebration, he was quick to accept.
“Representation is really important to me, especially when it comes to Latinx representation,” Acosta said. “You know, as Latinx people, it is really easy to feel like you are pushed to the wayside and no one really cares about you or what you have to say. So, you know, any chance I get to represent my family, my culture and my group of people I can’t really pass that up.”
For Acosta, the BLPC is part of what drew him to apply to Texas State University in the first place.
He said that the celebration is a good way to show actors in the program that they matter, and that there are roles for them. In addition, the celebration also tells students looking to come to Texas State that they will be valued at the university.
“One of the things you hear when you are minority-actor is: ‘It’s going to be harder for you. No one is going to offer you roles,’ because all roles are made for mainly Caucasian actors,” Acosta said.
This year’s BLPC features two plays, As a Mighty Stream and Delivery, that have been selected for a workshop and a staged reading. In addition, this year’s celebration pays tribute to an LA-based theatre group Culture Clash.
Acosta said that Culture Clash’s goal is to show the clash of cultures amongst minorities and the majority. He said their shows address relevant issues, like immigration, and also shows how it feels to be Latinx in America.
Acosta is performing in a 10-minute scene from Culture Clash’s Bordertown. He is playing a Caucasian border patrolman who he said is a very hateful, racist character. The play was written nearly 20 years ago, but issues such as immigration are still relevant.
“It boils down to fear, so much hate is just fear,” Acosta said. “When it comes down to it, every human will do terrible things when it comes to fear.”
The BLPC sets Texas State apart, Acosta said he picked the university for that reason. He said that he didn’t want to be at a school where he was type-cast or not cast at all. With efforts like BLPC, summer bilingual plays, and the selection of plays for the 2019- 2020 season, he said Texas State theatre is moving in the right direction when it comes representation of minorities.
“It’s a really great thing,” Acosta said in regards to the celebration, “it makes sure that diversity is a strong point in the theatre atmosphere.”
Acosta and others will be paying tribute to Culture Clash Sept. 6 at the Performing Arts Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. For more information, please contact the Department of Theatre and Dance at (512) 245-2147.
Featured image by Jessica Graham.