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 me 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 Mena relocated 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“. For booking information please visit https://rubyneldaperez.weebly.com/.
PATRICIA ZAMORA (Sylvia)
2018 Patricia is a native of Premont, Texas. She has a B.A. in Theatre from St. Edward’s University and a M.Ed. from the University of Texas Pan American.
Patricia was named one of the Best Local Actors in San Antonio for 2021 by the San Antonio Current. Her one woman show, Curanderas & Chocolate: Cuentos of a Latino Life made its world premiere at The Overtime Theater in 2019. She has since performed the show at The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Teatro Audaz in residence at The Public Theatre of San Antonio and State Left Theater in Spokane, Washington. Patricia can be heard in two Audible Parade Productions; Triple Six and One For The Road: a Stephen King Dollar Baby Production, which is doing very well on the festival circuit.
She recently performed in a Golden Girls Parody with Players At The Pointe and will join them again in the spring as the lead in the drama On Tidy Endings by: Harvey Fierstein. This is her seventh season as a Tamalera. Visit patriciazamora.net for more about Patricia.
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 and directs the UIL One Act Play at Pleasanton 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 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 28 seasons and is looking forward to the next 28.
“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