CRIMINAL QUEERNESS FESTIVAL
JUNE 22-26 2021
«when we write with ashes»
By Victor I. Cazares
Directed By Borna Barzin
Starring: Jose Useche and Noor Hamdi
One night you race across the Chihuahuan Desert to introduce your Muslim boyfriend to your dying grandfather—funerals are perfect opportunities to introduce a new character. Years pass and you’re on the bed of a pickup truck trying to avoid going to rehab—meth, it’s always meth these days. Your partner looks at you and tells you you’re his addiction, his self-harm. A fascist gets elected and together you wonder if you should leave the country; flee while you still can. You watch the country you fled to become the country you fled from. One of you dies and the other one remembers. You stand in the middle of the desert and look up; there are no signals. Only light pulses of transmission: one zero one zero zero one one.
«when we write with ashes» is a burial rite—like all my plays—and the title is a reference to the final death fiesta the Raramurí perform. You write with ashes to protect yourself from the dead. You write with ashes to help them start their journey into the next world.
Victor I. Cazares (they/them) is a non-binary Poz Queer Indigenous Mexican Artist (enby PQIMA for short) who has had stints at Yale, Brown, and other less prestigious centers of rehabilitation. Like any border child, they were born twice: once in El Paso, Texas and another in San Lorenzo, Chihuahua. During the pandemic, Victor debuted virtually at Carnegie Hall as part of the Voices of Hope Festival in partnership with National Queer Theater and The LGBT Center. They also taught a tuition-free class for emerging immigrant playwrights as part of PEN America's DREAMing Out Loud program with NQT and NYTW. Plays include: american (tele)visions and Pinching Pennies with Penny Marshall (NYTW); Ramses contra los monstruos; We Were Eights Years in Powder; and «when we write with ashes» (NQT and Lincoln Center Restart Stages). Victor is currently the Tow Playwright-in-Residence at New York Theatre Workshop.
Borna Barzin (he/him) is a Brooklyn-based theater director of Iranian heritage hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area. Recent directing credits include Pinching Pennies with Penny Marshall by Victor I. Cazares (New York Theatre Workshop), The Mad Dog Blues by Sam Shepard (The Hive), and How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel (Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Pace University). Upcoming projects include The Geography of a Horse Dreamer by Sam Shepard (PCTC); and Assistant Directing Charles Mee’s Wintertime, directed by Les Waters (Berkeley Rep). Borna has also worked in casting, creative development, and producing roles at companies such as New York Theatre Workshop, Disney Theatrical Group, and The TEAM. He is currently the Marketing Associate of Oye Group and the Associate Casting Director of the National Tour of Daniel Fish’s reimagined Oklahoma! Bornabarzin.com
Jose Useche (he/him/él) is a queer Latinx actor, writer, and activist from Queens, NY – or Munsee Lenape land. Favorite credits include Wyn in Look Upon Our Loneliness at NYTW, and Tim in The Fat Lady Sings at LaMama. If you enjoyed this piece, made possible almost entirely by the labor of queer people of color, he suggests you stop voting humans into power whose political views threaten our very existence, and to support (give money to) orgs and people who uplift us. Some recs: Color of Change, TransLawCenter, Immigration Equality. Repped by DGRW for talent and Echo Lake Entertainment for talent and literary. Follow me @soyjoseuseche (all channels) or www.jose-useche.com
Noor (he/him) is a queer, Syrian-American actor, teacher, and circus artist. He’s appeared in theatre productions Off-Broadway (including “Cartography” by Kaneza Schaal and Chris Myers), locally, regionally, internationally, and, due to the pandemic, on Zoom; and many short films such as “Flunkyball” (dir. Tess Forestieri), and “Sherman” (dir. Darine Hotait). It’s important to Noor that art elevates those who experience it, and his art is guided by that mindset. In particular, Noor seeks to normalize SWANASA and queer narratives (and especially the intersection of the two) in order to promote a deeper tolerance and understanding of those communities in the world's current social framework. www.noorhamdi.com