The next interview in our stagey chat series is with Guido García Lueches, who's currently performing a one-human show about what the ‘Latinx’ label means in the UK and the lengths we all go to to fit in. Playing Latinx is playing at the Soho Theatre. You can book tickets here.

Get yourself comfy and join us for the next segment of Stagey Chat!

What inspired you to create a show centring Latinidad?

Mainly the fact that there is very little work talking about it and us, at least here in the UK. I first got here 10 years ago and was met with a pretty incredible and large community, full of hopes and dreams and struggles, and yet to look at pop culture representation you would think there are no Latin Americans in the UK. The main representation we get in media and culture  is a very US-based one, and it tends to be very stereotypical, drug and gang related, Latin lovers and clowns - all stereotypes I look at in this show. And working as an actor, I started to get asked to perform this mental “Latinness” which I essentially had to construct for myself to start getting work, so this show riffs on those experiences.

What does the theatre landscape look like for Latinos in England?

Ha! Well, not great, quite frankly. I cannot tell you how many shows set in Latin America I’ve seen in England in the last few years that didn’t have a single Latin American person in the cast or the creative team. Unlike other communities, we don’t have dedicated theatres specifically wanting to programme our work, so it’s hard.

To counter that, the landscape that does exist is the one the Latin artists are forging for themselves, after years of knocking on doors and being ignored, and of us essentially infiltrating the more “establishment” spaces. And in that regard, it’s great, because we’re good at being unignorable, and I like to think there’s a mentality in the community for opening doors for each other.

What are the challenges of putting on a one man show?

The biggest challenge is that you’re on your own! But we’ve cheated a bit here, and we get the audience to be on stage with me more or less at all times.

I think I always knew it was a one-human show (‘man’ does feel so very 2000s), but that I didn’t want to be alone and ‘act’ to myself, so the interactiveness of it all was kind of always there from the start. 

What comes next for you?

I’m going back to the UK tour of The Importance of Being… Earnest? in May, which is going round the country right now. Then something I’m not allowed to disclose yet (have always wanted to say this, ngl), and then we’ll be doing Jeezus! again, which we just previewed at the Pleasance and will hopefully be coming back in October. It’s a busy year, but in this economy, busy is good. I’m grateful that my calendar seems to be getting booked more and more in advance these days.

What would you like to see more of?

Main stages at big theatres programming migrant work. Commissions for migrant artists. Big theatres putting their money where their mouth is, essentially.

Political theatre! I come from a country where theatre and politics are very intimately intertwined, so it baffles me to no end how ‘pro status quo’ the theatre industry in the UK is. We’re (hopefully) coming to an end of 15 years of horrific Tory rule, and where has the pushback from the theatre establishment been? Where are your plays demanding a better world? Why does the NT keep programming David Hare? I have so many questions for the people in charge, really.

Did you face any difficulties in developing Playing Latinx?

Well, Boris’ 2nd lockdown hit us in the middle of our first official R&D for the show, so that was great. Covid was a big one, as the show was originally programmed for March 2020, so we had to push it back quite a bit. In retrospect, it gave us time to make it as cool as it is currently, so maybe I shouldn’t complain.

I think the difficulties were that we initially didn’t quite know what the show was, and we were trying to do A LOT with the show. There was a whole Hamilton storyline at one point. But as soon as we found the seminar storyline, we knew we had something fun in our hands, and the rest has been playing around and having fun. When you have such wonderful collaborators as Male Arcucci and Mariana Aristizabal, then work and play are not that different.

You were very vocal about the lack of Latinx casting in the Leicester Curve production of Evita, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Well, I can’t tell you the thinking behind the Evita casting, you gotta talk to Nikolai Foster for that. To be honest, I’d love to get a drink with him someday and have a chat, because I still don’t get it.

I really thought we had had that conversation, honestly as an industry. I almost thought this show wasn’t necessary any more, but people like to prove me wrong.

It is a thing that minority groups have to say over and over again because people don’t seem to get it (look at the Richard III controversy at the Globe earlier this year): we are NOT metaphors for telling whatever feel good story you’re trying to tell about yourself. Either do it with us, or not at all. 

We are called Stage to Page, but if you could turn any book from page to stage, what would it be? 

100 Years of Solitude would make an incredible National Theatre epic, with the right people behind it. I’d love to try to do some Cortazar, but not sure what or how one might even adapt such a mental imagination. It’s all about that magical realism for me, and how one might bring these worlds to life on stage. Magic and surprise, you gotta have that. As well as the politics.

You can book tickets to see Guido García Lueches in Playing Latinx at the Soho Theatre, here.

Interview by Luma

**photo credit: Mann Bros.**

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