Basement Arts broke from tradition this year and opened their new season not with a play or musical, but with their brand new “Latinx: Caberéy.” Directed by School of Music, Theatre & Dance senior Lauren Kenner with assistance from SMTD sophomores Ruby Pérez and Sammie Estrella, this performance gave Latinx identifying students the chance to share the pride in their culture with peers.
In a night full of singing, dancing, poetry and virgin margaritas, everyone was alive with energy and enthusiasm. Before even entering the small studio, theatre-goers were offered a feast of Latinx cuisine. Inside the studio, the set, designed by STAMPS sophomore Ryan Espitia, was vibrant and homey, welcoming in the audience with bright blankets and warm lights. The loving atmosphere made the audience feel welcomed into the space and involved in the show.
“Caberéy” included a variety of acts: Songs ranged from traditional Spanish lullabies to “Hamilton” ballads. Traditional Latin dances were both performed and taught to the crowd, and poignant poems were written by the students. Some of the highlights include SMTD senior Maya Ballester and SMTD junior Cristina Holder’s rendition of “Remember Me” from the movie “Coco,” a beautiful duet incorporating both Spanish and English lyrics, and SMTD sophomore Sammie Estrella’s poem “Little Brown Hands,” a piece about growing up Latinx.
Basement Arts provided a space for the voices of underrepresented artists to soar. They featured artists from different Latinx countries and different backgrounds. In a stunning finale, each artist spoke their name and the culture that they identify with, proving that Latinx culture conforms to no ideals and knows no boundaries.
Not only was this show necessary and important, but it was fun. Whether gasping at a gut-wrenching poem or clapping to a spirited Spanish song, everyone was engaged and enjoying every minute. Each performance illuminated a different aspect of Latinx culture; some songs were in Spanish, some songs were written by Latinx composers and poems spoke to different facets of what it means to identify as a Latinx artist.
What made the night so powerful was the coming together of all of these unique artists and experiences to celebrate a common culture. For the artists involved, it was an opportunity to bond over a commonality that society doesn’t always allow them embrace. For the audience, it was a chance to deepen our understanding of a likely unfamiliar culture. Everyone needs the chance to be introduced to these conversations to perpetrate growth and understanding in our society.
Opening the season with such a powerful statement on inclusivity within the theatre opens Basement Arts up for further conversations about important topics. This show gave those in the Latinx community a place to use their voices and those not in the community a place to listen. Seeing Basement Arts on the track to inclusivity gives us hope for more events like this in the future and a more inclusive theatre community.