ABOUT THE PLAY
Las Nuevas Tamaleras had it’s world premier at El Teatro Bilingue de Houston for it’s First Annual Latino Playwright’s Festival, Houston Texas, September 1990. It soon had it’s San Antonio premier at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in March 1993. Since then the play has been produced by Theatre Three in Dallas, TX., Teatro Vision in San Jose, CA, La Compania de Teatro in Albuquerque, NM, Centro Su Teatro in Denver, CO. Laredo Little theater in Laredo,TX and back to Teatro Bilingue de Houston. Besides the annual holiday San Antonio production, Burras Finas Productions has toured the play throughout the country.
The sense of loss I felt after my mother’s death served as an inspiration for writing Las Nuevas Tamaleras. It may seem odd that such an experience should inspire me to write a comedy, but it makes perfect sense to me. In my family, humor and laughter were ever present. My mother was known to condone a joke, if it was good, even at inappropriate moments, such as, say, funerals. Humor was a most important part of her life. Laughter, I believe, is a very important element of the Latino experience.
With her passing, I felt an urgency to hold on to my quickly fading cultural traditions. How better to do that than to write a play, a comedy, about tamales. Tamales were as important to my mother as humor. In writing Las Nuevas Tamaleras it was important to me to recreate the characters that linked me to my past. It pained me to see my traditions being buried with my parents and grandparents. It become vitally important for me to capture their language, their idioms, their values.
It gave great pleasure to write Las Nuevas Tamaleras, I hope it gives you the same pleasure as you watch it.
ALICIA MENA (Doña Mercedes)
After working with many of the major theaters in the Houston theater community for years, Alicia Menarelocated to San Antonio in 1993 where she worked at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center as a writer, director and actor. In 1995 she founded Burras Finas Productions with the mission of staging the annual production of “Las Nuevas Tamaleras” which is included in an anthology of works by Latina writers published by the University of Arizona Press entitled “Puro Teatro. Mena’s full-length comedy, “There Comes a Time” was developed and produced by Teatro Esperanza for the First Annual Festival Latino in San Francisco, CA. The play has also been produced in Houston at Stages Repertory Theater and at Talento Bilingue de Houston.
RUBY NELDA PEREZ (Doña Juanita)
Ruby Nelda Perez is considered one of the most talented Chicana theatre performance artists in the nation. She is recognized for her solo performances, where she enchants, captivates and delights audiences. For over 30 years her performances have taken her from labor camps and prisons, to such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center and The Whitney Museum in New York. In 1999, the San Antonio Theatre Coalition awarded her with the Living Legend Award and in 2008 she was designated an NEA American Masterpieces touring Artist. Ruby tours with her one woman shows entitled “Dona Rosita’s Jalapeno Kitchen” and “Rosita’s Day of the Dead“. Ruby has been accepted to the 2018-2020 Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) Texas Touring Roster. This program is designed to ensure all Texans/Tejanos have the ability to enjoy our Texas based artists. TCA provides help with costs and artists fees to Texas schools, libraries and nonprofit organizations. Contact TCA at 512-463-5535 for more info.
PATRICIA ZAMORA (Sylvia)
2018 has been an exciting year of projects for Patricia. She shared her voice with Audible Parade Productions on their web series thriller, “Triple Six” She can be heard in episodes 1, 2 and 4 at audibleparade.com. She dipped her toe in film this year with “Beta” a 48 Hour Film Project, shot an H-E-B commercial and also launched and performed her one woman show, “Because we were Poor” for audiences. Patricia will be performing her show in February 2019 at the Overtime Theater. This is her fourth season as a Tamalera and she loves her Tamalera family! Her all-time favorite role is that of mother to 14 year old Xander and 12 year old Chloe. She sends besos to her loving husband Rick for his love and support.
SONIA M. RODRIGUEZ (Josie)
Rodriguez has been with Las Nuevas Tamaleras since 1993. She graduated from Southwest Texas State University in 1999 with a BFA degree in acting and theatre education. Sonia has been acting professionally since 1987. She currently teaches theatre arts at Pleasanton Jr. High and Pleasanton High School. She directs the UIL One Act Play for both, the Jr. High and High School. Sonia was named Pleasanton ISD teacher of the year in 2006-07. Sonia graduated from Walden University with a Masters in Integrating Technology in the Classroom In 2007. She will be working on an upcoming show at Teatro Audaz San Antonio which will be presented in August 2019. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family and friends. Sonia would like to thank her parents, family, friends and the Tamaleras’ fans for all their love and support, for the past 25 years and is looking forward to the next 25.
KRISTINA KELLER (Patsy)
Kristina Keller is a founding member of Burras Finas Productions and has been a Tamalera since 1992. Keller has played the lead in several productions of Mena’s including the comedy, “There Comes a Time.” Kristina attended The Houston International Theater School and has performed with the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet as well as numerous films, commercials and musical theater productions.
“Mena’s Las Nuevas Tamaleras is a delightful bilingual comedy that’s funny even if your Spanish is as minimal as mine.”
— William Albright, The Houston Post
“Playwright and director Alicia Mena offers us a slice of contemporary Chicano life that allows us to honestly laugh at ourselves. There’s a price to pay, however, as Las Nuevas Tamaleras forces us to ponder the preservation of our cultural patrimony.”
— Eduardo Diaz, San Antonio Express News
“Las Nuevas Tamaleras is about passing on a culture to generations that have adopted new lifestyles. The idea may seem didactic, Ms. Mena gets her point across with so much humor and wisdom that the lessons need no salsa to help them go down.”
— Lawson Taitte, The Dallas Morning News