These Are My Papers

A Performance Talk by Virginia Grise

February 27, 2020 at 7:00 pm
Gateway to Nature Center
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument

Presented in partnership with CalArts Center for New Performance, in conjunction with performances of rasgos asiáticos at Automata Arts, March 19–22, 2020

Part lecture and part performance, award-winning playwright/theater artist Virginia Grise speaks about moving bodies and porous borders as she shares both personal stories and historical research related to her newest theater project, rasgos asiaticos, a site-specific performance installation that premieres in Los Angeles this March.

Grise begins with a single event: On October 24, 1871, nearly 20 Chinese men were tortured and hanged in downtown Los Angeles. This mass lynching—one of the largest in U.S. history—took place on Calle de los Negros, named for its original inhabitants: dark-skinned Californios of Indigenous, African and Spanish descent. From this coincidence of space, she insists that the story of migration and displacement in the Americas is a palimpsest—a parchment written on, erased, then written on again—tracing old words ghosting underneath the new. rasgos asiaticos examines the historic confluence of China, Mexico and the United States in an attempt to re-imagine how we think about immigration, migration and dignity in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Photo: Archival family photograph (left); Virginia Grise, Photo: Netza Moreno (right).

About the Artist

From panzas to prisons, from street theatre to large-scale multimedia performances, from princess to chafa – Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. Her play blu was the winner of the 2010 Yale Drama Series Award and was recently published by Yale University Press. Her other published work includes The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press) and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press).

Virginia is a recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing, the Playwrights’ Center’s Jerome Fellowship, the Loft Literary Center’s Spoken Word Fellowship, Pregones Theatre’s Asuncion Award for Queer Playwriting, and is a Time Warner Fellow Alum at the Women’s Project Theatre Lab. Her work has been produced, commissioned and/or developed at the Alliance Theatre, Bihl Haus Arts, Company of Angels, Cornerstone Theatre, Highways Performance Space, Playwright’s Center, Pregones Theatre, REDCAT, Victory Gardens, Women’s Project and Yale Repertory Theatre. In addition to showing people her panza in college classrooms, cafeterias and conference halls all across the nation, she has also performed both nationally and internationally at venues including the Jose Marti Catedra in Havana, Cuba and the University of Butare in Rwanda, Africa.

As a curator, artist and activist she has facilitated organizing efforts amongst women, immigrant, Chicano, working class and queer youth. Virginia has taught writing for performance at the university level, as a public school teacher, in community centers, women’s prisons and in the juvenile correction system. She holds an MFA in Writing for Performance from the California Institute of the Arts and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York – where she still writes plays about Tejas.