Queering the Border: Que El Amor Nos Haga
Queering the Border: Que El Amor Nos Haga is a new movement theatre work created and directed by Dora Arreola, Artistic Director of Mujeres en Ritual Danza-Teatro, in collaboration with artists and communities living at the intersection of LGBTQ+ identity and the U.S.-Mexico border.
The goal of this project is to increase understanding and give exposure to the stories of asylum seekers and other migrants from various parts of the world who end up stranded in Tijuana, or other areas of Mexico, for long periods of time, due to policies blocking them from entering the United States. The project focuses on stories of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. It will expose the complexity of the situation for migrants, who have been the target of sensationalism and used by political interests in the U.S. and globally. Dora will approach these stories from a feminist, queer, and anti-colonial point of view—making the invisible visible, shedding light on the individual and collective reasons people migrate: from fleeing domestic or state violence, to homophobic or transphobic assaults, to threats from human traffickers, to climate crises and poverty. These are just some of the reasons that force people to emigrate and expose themselves to the physical and mental health risks, disappearances, and even death.
Community workshops in Tijuana will be organized by Gaba Corteìs and Casa Arcoiris, and will be cofacilitated by Dora and collaborating artists. Utilizing Story Circles and other devised theatre and movement techniques, the artists will develop a dance-theatre-documentary performance to illuminate the experiences of these communities, their migratory exodus to the United States, and how they become stranded in Mexico while awaiting asylum. The intention of the workshops is to create a safe and brave space to explore and share stories, as well as processes for resistance, resilience, healing, and release. Creative prompts will include questions such as: “What or who has helped you follow your path?” “What ancestors do you speak with on your journey?” “How do we create joy?” and “Who have you loved unconditionally?”
The artistic process, including story gathering and creative movement, will result in a live performance by Dora and collaborating artists, giving voice and presence to the stories of migrants who cannot cross the border. Performances will include site-specific actions at the border wall in Playas de Tijuana, where the border cuts into the sea; and a stage production with 3-5 artists, and structures for community engagement/co-creation, created for touring in the United States.
DORA ARREOLA has more than thirty years of professional experience as a theater director, choreographer and performer. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the company Mujeres en Ritual Danza-Teatro, founded in 1999 in Tijuana, Mexico. She was a participant at Grotowski's Workcenter in Pontedera, Italy (1987-89), and is currently an Associated Professor of Theatre at the University of South Florida. She has taught, directed, and performed in Mexico, the U.S., Nicaragua, Canada, Poland, India and Italy. She holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Massachusetts. Dora is co-author of the book Mujeres en Ritual: Género y Transformación /Gender & Transformation (CECUT, 2014); and is featured in the book Grotowski, Women, and Contemporary Performance: Meetings with Remarkable Women (Routledge, 2013). The creative research that Dora Arreola has developed over two decades integrates elements of traditional dances and songs of Mexico and the contemporary theatre practices of Tadashi Suzuki, Jerzy Grotowski and Rena Mirecka, creating a complex system of physical movement.
Collaborators in the creation process will include: Yareni Garcia, Tijuana-based queer theatre artist; Mujeres en Ritual Danza-Teatro company members; human rights activist and filmmaker Gaba Cortés, who has been documenting the journey of migrants through Mexico to Tijuana; and community partner Casa Arcoiris, a temporary shelter for LGBTQ+ migrants in Tijuana.
By Dora Arreola