The Death of the Phoenix of México
Querida Sor Juana/ Dear Sor Juana was originally conceived as a dramatic reading of the letters of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1696) for the Bay Area Women’s Theatre Festival (BAWTF). It was to be staged in March 2020 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, in the heart of San Francisco’s Latinx community. Covid-19 postponed the event, but like the phoenix, it rises again as Querida Sor Juana: The Death of the Phoenix of México .
Created by local Latine theater artist Carolina Morones, Querida Sor Juana is a fan letter to the poet nun of Mexico for her feminist contributions to the question of women’s rights and education. Morones’ dramatization of Sor Juana’s writing celebrates a Latine cultural icon at a time when this community is under strain due to pandemic hardship, immigration policies, and rhetorical attacks in the social and political arena.
In this production Morones investigates themes relevant to Bay Area residents such as censorship, women’s physical and intellectual autonomy. Relentlessly censored by church and state, Sor Juana’s prolific work as a scholar, poet, and playwright in the 17th century garnered her recognition as “the 10th muse of Mexico”. However, her writings were considered heretical and unbecoming of a woman to such an extent that both her intellectual and physical autonomy were challenged and ultimately controlled by those in power.
Extremely popular in her time, her life ended in a secluded monastery during an outbreak of plague, which further echoes our current times. Her timeless themes continue to resonate in a community grappling with the same questions. As Sor Juana wrote in response to the Bishop of the city of Mexico challenging his order to censor her “how can it be: that we, as women, are praised and shown off for our brilliance while our rights, human rights, are being stripped away?”
*Member Actors’ Equity Association
Carolina returns to the Bay Area after 7 seasons in residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). As an Educator, Community Producer and Actor, Carolina has had the privilege of leading theatre-based workshops that embody social justice in action. She currently teaches for American Conservatory Theatre’s Studio ACT and is the Education & Engagement Consultant for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In 2016 she collaborated with director and producer Kamilah Long in the creation of Ritualistas: Nina Composed, exploring the African diaspora in the Americas through dance, music and spoken word. In 2020 she was honored to be the Movement Director & Cultural Consultant for Octavio Solis’ Retablos: Life on the Border with Word For Word at ZSpace. As an actor she recently played the role of Marina in SF Shakespeare Festival’s production of Pericles: Prince of Tyre. carolinamorones.com
Karina (she/her/ella) is a Bay Area-based director, dramaturg, and scholar. As a director and dramaturg, Karina has had the pleasure of working with Bay Area Children’s Theatre, BRAVA, Magic Theatre, Crowded Fire, Huntington Theatre, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, PlayGround, Playwright’s Foundation, Shotgun Players, Stanford University, TheatreFirst, Townhall Theatre, UC Berkeley, West Edge Opera, and Word for Word. She is additionally a member of the Latinx Theatre Commons Steering Committee, Theatre Bay Area, and a founding member of the Bay Area Latinx Theatre Alliance Network (BALTAN). Karina received her Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies from Stanford University. Her scholarship concentrates on the intersection of politics and performance. She is currently a professor of Theatre History and Performance Studies in the Department of Theatre and Dance and Santa Clara University. karinagutierreztheater.com
Regina (she/her/ella) is a native Bay Area actor, singer, educator, a resident artist at the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and a company member at Oakland Theater Project. She was last seen in the West Coast Premiere of Gary: A Sequel To Titus Andronicus at Oakland Theater Project. Bay Area credits include Yerma (Shotgun Players), The Winter’s Tale (California Shakespeare Theater), Retablos (Word For Word SF), Utopia (Cutting Ball Theater), As You Like It (SF Shakespeare Festival), and Women Laughing Alone With Salad (Shotgun Players). Morones has a BA in Theatre Arts from Clark Atlanta University and an MFA in Acting from the University of Iowa. Her deepest gratitude to family and friends for their endless love and support! reginamorones.com
Amelie (she/her) is a Bay Area native raised in Oakland California who comes from a long line of multidisciplinary artists. She is currently a fifth grader at American Indian Charter School and enjoys exploring the world of fashion with her friends. Amelie is excited to be in her first staged reading as “La Niña” in Querida Sor Juana and looks forward to more opportunities to grow as an artist. Many thanks to her aunts Carolina and Regina Morones for inspiring her to pursue the arts.!
SOR RUFINA / ENSEMBLE
Wilma (she/her/ella) was recently seen as Mrs. Peacock in Clue at Lesher Center and as Nurse in Romeo y Juliet at CalShakes. Before pandemic, appeared in Ricardo Perez Gonzalez’s Don’t Eat the Mangos at the Magic Theatre for which she was awarded the San Francisco Bay Area Critic Circle Award. Anna Considers Mars at Playground and Mother Courage and Her Children at Ubuntu Theater, This Golden State Part One: Delano and Bruja at the Magic Theatre, A Streetcar Name Desire and The Tenth Muse at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Electricidad at the Mark Taper Forum and September Shoes at the Denver Center Theatre Company. Also performed with the American Conservatory Theatre, Campo Santo, Aurora Theater, Marin Theatre Company, Dallas Theatre Center, El Teatro Campesino and the San Francisco MimeTroupe.
Film/television: ELEMENTAL, NONA, COCO for Pixar. What Dreams May Come, 8MM, Underwraps, Jack, Radio Flyer, Midnight Caller and Nash Bridges.
Gisela (she/they) is a Bay Area actor and teaching artist. They graduated from PCPA where they had the pleasure to be in the ensemble for the Crucible, play Tootles in Peter Pan, and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They were last seen playing the guitarrón as Gabby in PCPA’s American Mariachi and touring Breaking Through along the central coast. As a teaching artist, Gisela brings mental health and resiliency workshops to middle and high schools across Northern California. giselafeied.com
Chrisian is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist performing all over California. Previous credits include Fedya Dolokhov in Shotgun Player’s Natasha, Pierre in the Great Comet of 1812, El Gato in BACT’s El Gato Ensombrerado, and David in PCPA’s Company. actorchristianarteaga.com
Vanessa (she/her/ella) has been a part of the Bay Area arts for over a decade. She enjoys every opportunity to work with so many talented artists. She especially enjoys new works and plays with music. She earned her BA in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley and her Masters in Arts Administration from Drexel University. Recent theater credits include Teatro La Lengua, Central Works, Indra’s Net Theater, American Conservatory Theater, New Conservatory Theater and Ballet San Jose.
BRIAN HERNDON *
Brian Herndon gratefully returns to SF Shakes for his sixth season, having performed in Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Cymbeline. His favorite shows include Failure: A Love Story and Shakespeare in Love with Marin Theatre Company, Eurydice and The Merchant of Venice at City Lights Theater Company, and Jane Austen’s Emma at TheatreWorks. He has taught theatre and stage combat in the Bay Area since 2000. Brian holds an MFA in Acting from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and studied at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre.
MUSICIAN #2, MOTHER, ARVIRAGUS
Eiko (she/they) an issei, ilchom ose, multi-hyphenate artist, hails from Tokyo/
Seoul/ Honolulu. Recent credits: Clue, Follies, Tiny Beautiful Things (San
Francisco Playhouse), M’Lynn Eatenton – Steel Magnolias (SierraRep), originating
role of Pacfica – world premiere of Sleeping Beauty: Panto (Presidio Theatre), Into
The Woods (Mountain Play). They’ve also worked with PlayOn Shakespeare at
the Magic Theatre, Marin Shakespeare, African American Shakespeare, Playwrights Foundation, PlayGround, Berkeley Rep Ground Floor, ZSpace, Company One. Upcoming: Panto in the Presidio; The Truer History of the Chan Family: film released 2024. Eiko is a graduate of UCLA and member of SAG-AFTRA. eikoyamamoto.com | IG @eikoyh.
U/S MUSICIAN #1, IACHIMO, BELARIUS
Ben Chau-Chiu is a Bay Area actor and director. He’s excited to be back for another summer of Free Shakes! Recent credits include: She Loves Me (42nd Street Moon); Poor Yella Rednecks, The Headlands (A.C.T.); Delta Daze, Momo, Best Christmas Ever (Monday Night PlayGround SF/NY); Much Ado About Nothing (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival); Beauty and the Beast (Palo Alto Players); A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Lamplighters Music Theatre). He has also worked with Cal Shakes, Berkeley Rep, Livermore Valley Opera, New Conservatory Theater Center, Town Hall Theatre, and Bay Area Children’s Theatre.
U/S MUSICIAN #2, POSTHUMUS, CAIUS LUCIUS
Julien Gussman (they/he) is joining San Francisco Shakespeare for the first time this summer and cannot be more excited! They grew up in the Bay Area and are currently studying Theatre Arts and Anthropology at Santa Clara University. Previous credits include Toad in A Year With Frog and Toad (BACT), Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray (Stage1), Yellow Girl in Shout (SBMT), Martha Dunnstock in Heathers (PSP), and Ensemble in Sense and Sensibility (TheatreWorks). They hope you enjoy the show!
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