Erika Vivianna Céspedes • Silicon Valley De-Bug • Review • January 13, 2012
Watching “New Fire” made me think of a lot of things, especially of how far away I am from my elders. I am 24 years old and was born and raised here in Califas. I’ve spent the majority of my life bouncing up and down the coast depending on where my Mom or Tia could find work. My physical origins have their roots here in the Bahia, but like many 1st generation youth, I am thousands of miles away from Colombia, the place the majority of my family lives.
I am one of many self identified Two-spirit, Raza, and poetry obsessed 20 something year olds here in the Bay, who have also been anxiously awaiting the premiere of this work. There are many of us who live with this ongoing and insatiable hunger to honor and feel a sense of history, culture, and belonging. The influence of mujeres like Cherrie Moraga, Adelina Anthony, and Celia Herrera Rodríguez is immense in my local youth community for that reason. We hold on deeply to the teachings and art of these mujeres, because many of us don’t have access to the stories and history of our families. So it is an honor to be able to witness new work by Cherrie Moraga, one of Brava’s founding members, at a local community theatre like Brava. Especially considering it is work that intentionally centers the experiences of queer, female bodied, and indigenous people of color.
Like many of the writings and teachings of Moraga, Anthony, or Rodríguez, “New Fire” manages to remind me of the strength we can channel when we allow our lives, narratives, and unknown histories to be whole again. Not fragmented or incomplete, but whole. This play is a survival story as experienced through myth and flesh. It is both ceremony and theatrics. A balance of video and dance that embodies live storytelling and flashbacks of memory. “New Fire” pushes the boundaries of imagination, of what we thought multidisciplinary and cultural art could be. This play is for those of us who need to be reminded of how art brings us home. It reminds us that there is a survival art inherent in all of us.