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5 Questions with... Luciérnagas playwright Javier Rivera DeBruin

Learn more about Javier Rivera DeBruin!

What inspired you to write Luciérnagas?

Luciérnagas came about during my Saturn Return. I was exploring and interrogating my relationship to my family, my gender, the legacy of trauma that weaves its way through diasporic people, and the process of unraveling that. I was having lots of conversations with a close friend about mothers and motherhood; about the unfair expectations that get put on mothers to be more than human, and the ways that this can get projected onto their children. Luciérnagas became a way for me to untangle many parts of myself and find a deeper love, compassion, and connection to all those parts, to family and to my ancestors.

What is your writing process like?

Each time I sit down to write I burn a candle, palo santo, incense, something to draw me into the world of the play, into my sensory instincts. I think this comes through in the sensory nature of a lot of my writing. I live in my head a lot, for better or worse, but to get to the good stuff I have to find a way to integrate and dig into all the beautiful, messy, scary and tangible parts of being alive. Once I'm there, the world and the characters take me for a ride.

What does queer theater mean to you?

Queer theater means disruptive theater, it means playful theater, resourceful theater, theater that isn't bound to conventions of how we tell stories, what those stories are, and who gets to tell them and share them. Essentially, to me queer theater is punk as fuck.

1: Yasha Lelonek, Alexandra Taylor, Teresa Yenque, and Gabriela Garcia. 2: Yasha Lelonek and Teresa Yenque. Photos by Sachyn Mital.

What do you want the audience to get out of the play?

I'd love for the audience to step into a little slice of this magic world, and to bring some of it with them when they leave. To wonder about their own "Xaras", their own family histories. I hope the play reaches something visceral in them that makes them curious, excited, maybe even difficult. Basically, I hope it meets them where they are at and reflects something familiar back at them.

The play involves some magic... what are you finding magical these days?

These days I'm finding magic in simple acts of living. I think the most magical moments happen when we step outside our agenda for a moment and just be present in the act of living, no matter where we're at or what we're doing. Sometimes it happens that I'm just walking down the street and I stop thinking about what I'm supposed to be doing and just enjoy my feet on the pavement, the sky, the buildings, the sounds. With the seasons changing there's so much new to notice every time I step outside. After a year of staying mostly inside these little things are especially magical.

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