Alumni Spotlight- Andrew Valdez
Andrew Valdez (UT 2013) is a Terry Transfer Scholar and graduated from UT Austin with a B.F.A. in Theatre Education. He is a director, playwright, actor, teaching artist, and producer. He currently serves as the New Play Associate at the Cleveland Public Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio. He recently shared some of his projects with us and also hosted a #TerryTakeover on our Instagram account.
“A lot of my job is working alongside Cleveland artists and developing their work… [giving] them the resources they need to realize their vision on stage,” he says. (Check out Andrew’s website for more information!)
Andrew recently served as the Assistant Director on a National New Play Network Rolling Premiere called “Br’er Cotton” by Terelle Alvin Chisholm. The show ran from March 29, 2018 to April 21, 2018. “This is one of my FAVORITE plays,” he told us. “The synopsis is a young black youth, who is tired of the systemic institutions that have continually oppressed African Americans. He takes his future, and the future of black youth, in his own hands and tries to rise up against his oppression- removing his family and his ancestry from the cotton field.”
“Those of us who don’t know people in a specific category… we put people into convenient little boxes and don’t look beyond. I hope that this play, in a way, maybe very subtly, encourages people not to do that.” -Jennifer L. Nelson, Director of Br’er Cotton (source: cptonline.org)
Andrew was also a production assistant on Cleveland Public Theater’s “Station Hope” event, which took place on May 5th. About his involvement, Andrew says, “Station Hope is a jubilant event that celebrates Cleveland’s social justice history and explores contemporary struggles for freedom and equity. We engage with over 250 artists as they envision, interrogate, and seek out hope on the grounds of Cleveland’s first authenticated Underground Railroad site, St. John’s Episcopal Church.” Andrew took over the Foundation’s Instagram to showcase the weekend’s activities and to provide an insider view of the festival and its art and performances. “It’s been an amazing journey helping curate a new play development festival that honors the diversity of our nation.” Learn more about Station Hope at cptonline.org>>>
Here are some of the images Andrew captured during his #TerryTakeover:
In early 2018, Andrew served as an actor and collaborator for the World Premiere of “American Dreams,” a play by Leila Buck.
Show Synopsis: “You are invited into the live studio audience of American Dreams, where you will decide which of three contestants will receive the ultimate prize: citizenship in ‘the greatest nation on earth.’ Weaving playful audience engagement with up-to-the-moment questions about immigration and more, this participatory performance explores how we navigate between fear, security, and freedom; who and what we choose to believe—and how those choices come to shape who we are.” (source: cptonline.org)
Andrew reflects on his experience:
“Together with Leila Buck (playwright), Tamilla Woodward (director) and Alex Corona (collaborator), we developed my character, Alejandro Rodriguez, who was a former medic in the National Guard and was deported to Mexico because he was not a citizen. His character takes inspiration from the livelihood that Alex and I share growing up near border towns. This character highlights a larger conversation this nation is having with the Dreamers and DACA; and what it means to have been or continue to be an American Citizen.”
“This show has meant a lot to me. Everyday we are confronted with our own biases and the biases of the nation; how we create meaningful dialogue from those conversations is an ever present presence that looms in our rehearsal room. It is one of the most rewarding works that I have participated in and is true testament of theater as social change. I really recommend checking out this news coverage of playwright Leila Buck and our Artist Director Raymond Bobgan, who go into depth about the conversations and questions this show raises.” Learn more about “American Dreams” at cptonlne.org>>>