A Conversation with Annie Dow & Eddie Martínez
Written by Margarita Javier
Photography by Emma Pratte
February 14, 2017
Within just a few years, Tanya Saracho has emerged as one of the most vibrant, creative, original, and, in many ways, important contemporary playwrights. Seeing her fantastic new play Fade, which is currently at the Cherry Lane as part of Primary Stages season, you understand why. In it, Lucía, an aspiring writer, crosses paths with Abel, a janitor in the building she now works in. The two bond over their shared Mexican background. Stereotypes and preconceptions are shattered as the two converse, and issues of class, culture, identity, and more are explored in depths rarely, if ever, seen onstage. We sat down with the two talented and engaging stars of Fade, Annie Dow and Eddie Martínez, to discuss their process and the play’s meaning and importance in this current political climate.
Margarita Javier: I really loved the play a lot, but first I wanted to know if you guys could talk a little about your background, where you’re from, how you got here.
Annie Dow: I’m from Monterrey, México, and I came here for college. I came here when I was 18. I grew up in Monterrey, doing my thing, doing theater stuff in my high school. So I caught the acting bug, I applied to NYU, got in.
MJ: Why did you want to go to NYU?
AD: Before acting was really in my head, I had this idea that I really wanted to go to a liberal arts college, one that had the trees and brownstones. I had this visual of what I really wanted. And then of course I applied to NYU that has basically no trees or brownstones, it’s just the park and that’s it (laughs). And I knew it’s a great theater program. I came to New York City for the first time when I was 15, and it was all Broadway and big eyes and “Oh my god, this is it! This is where I wanna be!” You know? So a few years later I was here.
MJ: How did you like it when you first moved here?
AD: You know, it’s weird because there was a lot of culture clash. I mean, I grew up speaking English at school and watching American TV, but there were a lot of little things that I didn’t know. Like saying, “Hi,” to people? Do you hug them? Do you kiss them? Do you handshake?
MJ: I had that too, because back in Puerto Rico we greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. But here they don’t do that.
AD: Right! And in groups of friends, or people you haven’t seen in a long time, it’s a big hug. Okay, great, but what do you do in the professional world, and what do you do on a date? It’s bizarre. ’Cause a handshake feels extremely cold, sometimes a little too cold for work, but then on a date kissing someone you just met on the cheek is weird. So that kind of stuff was a little disorienting at first. I was lucky enough that my program was very interested in the individual person’s perspective, so there was a lot of “Oh this is how you do it? Okay we’ll do that. And that’s how you do this other thing? Okay we’ll bring that in.” So it wasn’t like I had to shut down who I was or where I came from. I got to bring it to the table.
Eddie Martínez: I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. My parents are both from El Salvador. They met in the early ’70s in Chicago. I started doing theater late, when I was 16 or 17, around junior year of high school. My guidance counselor was asking me “What do you want to do with yourself?” And I sort of always was into film, so I thought I wanted to be a filmmaker. I started talking about that and she told me about a summer program at Columbia College Chicago, which is like a liberal arts school in Chicago, and through that I did an acting class, ’cause it was a backup to some of the film classes which ended up being full. I did the acting class and caught the bug right there. Ended up going to Columbia for theater, and then I got involved in the sketch comedy improv scene at Second City in Chicago. I was part of the first all-minority sketch group. We called ourselves BrownCo, ’cause all the touring companies are GreenCo, RedCo, BlueCo, so we were like, “BrownCo!” (laughs). It was just a joke at first, but it stuck. And then I got involved with doing shows with Teatro Vista, which is, I think, the only Latino equity theater company in the Midwest. I worked with Steppenwolf out there, the Goodman, Lookingglass. So yeah, most of my work has been out in Chicago.
MJ: And what brought you to New York?
EM: This show. I’m still in Chicago. I’m here just for the three and a half months or whatever it’s been or it’s gonna be. I got involved with the show like three years ago. It was just a reading at the Goodman Theatre in downtown Chicago. I’ve known Tanya for 10 to 11 years. You know, she started out as a playwright in Chicago, she was an actress in Chicago, so we know a lot of the same people, and we worked at a lot of the same places. You know, we were the Latino theater community in Chicago. So through that she just reached out to me and was like, “You know, I think you’d be good for this part, do you want to do a reading for it?” And the show was only like 55 pages at the time. So we did a reading of it at the Goodman and then a year passed and that was it, I did the reading and that was that. And then the people at Denver Center wanted to maybe commission it and all that, so then we did the New Play Summit at the Denver Center, and I went to Denver for two weeks to do that. Through that they decided to produce the show and then I did it this time last year in Denver for the world premiere.
MJ: And Annie, how did you get involved with this show?
AD: Oh man, it was just a goodness of heart, a good friend. Cristina Nieves and I had worked on one of Tanya’s other plays in New Jersey and I didn’t get a chance to meet Tanya at all during that process. We weren’t too familiar with each other. And when Primary Stages picked up the show, Cristina told Tanya, “You have to meet her.” So you know, casting reached out and I actually ended up doing a reading before Eddie jumped on.
EM: Yeah, ’cause after Denver it was sort of up in the air. I wasn’t promised anything.
AD: I think Primary Stages did an original reading in October or something to see where the play was and what made it work and what didn’t etc. So I came in for that, and then we did that other reading in December? November?
EM: Early December.
AD: Yeah, and then it was like, “Okay now you’re doing the show.” Okay! So it was really just the power of community. I’m eternally thankful to her [Cristina] because I never would’ve been on anybody’s radar if it wasn’t for that.
MJ: I’m wondering about your process in approaching your characters, especially since I notice there are some similarities in yours and your characters’ backgrounds. So specifically for this play, but also when you have to play a Latino character in other projects, how do you approach that? Is making sure the accent is correct something that you focus on? What are your processes as actors?
EM: There are some parallels between me and Abel, but then there’s these huge differences that I can’t even relate to. But we’re both from blue-collar working-class communities, which is what I grew up in. I went to Catholic school for 13 years but it was still very much representative of Chicago; Latinos, Black, Asians, everybody. So I grew up with the American experience. Hip-hop culture was also something that influenced me a lot growing up, because there weren’t a lot of salvadoreños in Chicago, so they thought I was Mexican or Puerto Rican or Middle Eastern, you know. I heard everything. But approaching Abel, I think the first thing I did was just learn about El Sereno, Boyle Heights, the people out there and what they’re like. And the little differences because, yeah, it’s similar communities, but LA and Chicago are two different things. As far as accents or anything like that, I didn’t really focus on that too much. I thought about doing this sort of, you know, more like Chicano rounding everything out, that sort of thing, but I felt like I’ve met a lot of people out there that don’t speak that way, and I sort of wanted to represent that. You gotta find the right places where it comes out and where it’s just like, “I’m at work, and it’s standard American English.”
AD: For Lucía, it’s hard because biographically the main stats are all very similar, I think. I mean, I look the way I look, I have the name that I have. It has put me in a position of being able to “pass” for white a lot of the time, so it creates an interesting dynamic where I was never really tokenized. It would be one or the other. Like extremely, “Oh, you are Mexican, you are a foreigner. Tell us about your culture, let’s go have Cinco de Mayo.” It was kind of like that level of interest and specificity, which is to say not much. And then on the other hand it would be me finding myself in rooms of people having very candid conversations about race or class or whatever and forgetting who I was and where I came from. So having to kind of be in the position that Lucía is in, of, like, “Oh man, do I say something? Do I call these people out? Do I pick my battles? Where is the line? What responsibilities do I have to represent who we are and where we come from? Do I even have the authority to do that?” Those kinds of questions have been in my head for a while, and so when this play comes along, I’m like, “Oh, this is exactly it.” So preparing for this was a lot of grappling with those questions, asking friends, asking people who immigrated the way I did, which is basically through education and work. Do you speak in Spanish to your servers? Do you wait? And it raises a lot of questions, especially coming from a place where I was the majority. They’re hard to contend with and interesting and fascinating questions. For me it was mostly engaging with those questions in my own life and with my friends and life. So in terms of the externals it’s not like I had to do a lot of body work or had to put on a voice. I think the closest was to do a Mexico City accent which is not my…
EM: Differentiating that, because you wanted to get it authentic. I remember you talking about getting it right for the mexicanos who do come see this.
AD: Right. Because I can pull off a pretty good Mexican Monterrey fresa [upper class] accent, but I think that comes across as a little provincial to someone from Mexico City. And Tanya wanted something a little more Mexico City, so I had to do some research, watch some YouTube videos, talk to some people I know. So for me it was a lot more internal work. Then of course getting into what position do I have to put myself in, in relation to the world around me, and am I going to do the things Lucía does? I think in Lucía’s mind it’s a lot of, “It’s either me or him, and I have to choose me.”
MJ: One of the things that resonated with me about this play is how it deals with authentic representation, of Latinos and, in this case specifically, Mexicans. The play does poke fun of it when they talk about the executives having created a “generic Latino” character, so I wanted to get your thoughts about authentic representation in general, what has your experience been, and how this play deals with that.
EM: Yeah. I think that there’s still a lot of work to do. I’m trying to think of what Latino shows are really out there right now.
AD: There’s that new Netflix one.
MJ: It’s really good, One Day at a Time. With Rita Moreno.
EM: Oh, yeah yeah! I haven’t gotten a chance to see it.
MJ: It’s about Cubans, and it’s really good.
EM: People are saying it’s a good representation.
MJ: It is, and they have Latino executives and writers.
EM: Yeah, I think that’s what it is, more than anything. Nothing’s going to change until Latinos are behind the scenes. Producing, show running. It’s why it’s exciting, this sort of position that Tanya’s in right now. She may be one of the pioneers of this, you know what I mean? ’Cause it’s 2017, but yet we’re still scratching the surface. I think there’s still a lot of the archetypes that have been out there, like when I audition for stuff it’s still very much the thug, the criminal, or the janitor. Why I said yes to this, why I was okay playing a janitor in this, is because it’s more than that, you know what I mean? But there’s definitely those parts out there. The “wise janitor,” you know? But I’ve also done stuff that had nothing to do with my race. I did a movie called The Dilemma, and I played an IT guy. And actually the part was originally written for, I think, an Indian guy. And I went in there and I didn’t try to do an accent or anything like that. ’Cause that’s a whole other thing that I’m having issues with now. Somebody asks me to audition for an Indian or Middle Eastern, and I’m not. So I’m kinda turning those things down now. With this particular part, I just went in and did my own thing and they ended up changing the character and made him Latino, and that worked. But that’s not always the case. And it was comedy. I think comedy, I think they say something in the play about where in comedy it’s okay and for other genres it’s not. So I think in the comedy world there seems to be a lot more diversity. I hate that word sometimes, but yeah. I’ve had voiceovers where I’m the voice of a taco, things like that. Which I’ve done. But, you know.
AD: Oh, yeah. Or like, “Selling that cerveza!”
EM: Yeah, that sort of thing. So there’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re still in a place where we need to make money. But I’m a lot more conscious of what I do, especially after doing this show. I think before maybe I would’ve been a little bit more open to doing things that, even though I didn’t agree with, I was like, “Well, I need the money!” But now with this show it’s like, no. You have to put your foot down at a certain point or it’s going to continue. I mean they’ll replace me, you know? It is what it is. But there’s still a lot of work to do.
AD: I think for me it’s almost kind of coming at it from the opposite experience. I’ve had casting directors tell me, almost in confidence, “Oh you’re so lucky you get to play white.” And because I came from a place where I was the majority, suddenly realizing, “Oh, there’s something wrong with who I am? Being white, playing white is better than Latina? What does that mean?” And then also on the other hand people being like, “Oh you’re not Latina enough to play a Latina.” And it’s like, “But I am Latina! Do you need my passport? It’s here!” So I’ve had a lot more fluidity in terms of the ethnicity that I play or the nationality that I play. I do think that Eddie has a point when he says that things change a lot when the artist gets to bring their own lives into it. So I’m looking into, like, Orange is the New Black, where you get to actually bring in your own experience. And the Latinas aren’t “Latinas,” they’re Dominican and some of them are Mexican, and that creates a thing. And the Asian girl, Soso [played by Kimiko Glenn], who’s very privileged, is different from the rest of the Asian people in prison. And I think that does something. If we can’t create our own material, then at least let us bring something of our background, of ourselves, because if you don’t have the experience to draw out a full-fledged character, which is okay, then at least let the actor bring something to the table, or hire writers that are doing that. Shows like How to Get Away With Murder having Karla Souza there, or watching Sara Ramirez when I was a little younger in Grey’s Anatomy was transformative for me, because I was like, “She’s me! She’s not this idea of what I’m supposed to be.” And learning to challenge people a little more on that when doing a commercial or when doing whatever it’s like, “Oh, do you mind if I try this? Or is this okay, can I try it?” And most of the time people are open. Or maybe I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve auditioned for the right projects. But we still have a long way to go, and I don’t know, there’s just something more colorful about differences.
EM: Again, a lot of shows, a lot of productions, I think, are trying to be better about stuff like that. I know a playwright here that I was hanging out with a week ago, and he’s a consultant on the show Power, and what they have him there for is basically to make sure that when Dominicans speak Spanish, they sound like Dominicans, and that the Mexicans sound like Mexicans. Because in so many shows in the past, somebody’s Mexican but they obviously sound Dominican, and we all know that, we catch that. Or somebody’s supposed to be Puerto Rican and they obviously sound Mexican. So they have him there and it’s a position now, and that is a good step.
AD: It’s like that show Narcos, I think, where it’s like the colors of the Latino rainbow, but they’re all supposed to be Colombian. And it’s like, “Great, this is showcasing Latino diversity this is awesome,” but…
EM: Some of them nail it. But some of them are obviously not Colombian.
AD: I’ve just always assumed that the drug trade is multicultural and that’s what we’re going to do.
EM: We’re ALL drug dealers! (Laughs.)
MJ: I think that speaks to the fact that there’s still a pervasive idea that audiences are mostly white. You know? Because they don’t notice those things. But there are audience members for whom it does matter. Like you wouldn’t have a British character speaking in an obvious American accent, they would never do that, but they still do it with Latinos or with Asians as well. And I think it’s important to keep in mind that not only do we want more diversity on screen, but for everyone to realize that the audience is diverse as well. Cater to all of us.
EM: It matters.
AD: And I think at the same time it’s important to talk about creating that diverse audience. So especially theaters in the city they’ll put on this great Latino play or this great Middle Eastern play, and then where are the audiences? A lot of the time there is no culture of going to the theater because the theater has not provided anything that is interesting to us, and has been to a certain degree unwelcoming. I mean, for some people it has been dangerous to go out and participate in community events like theatergoing. So being able to reach out to these communities and continue engaging them is, I think, very important. Because, I’m sure Eddie has felt this way, but the show is a completely different show depending on who’s in the audience. It’s incredible.
EM: Where we get the laughs changes based on who the audience is.
AD: Yeah, if the audiences are mostly white, English speakers, then it’s a serious drama. And if it’s Latinos, or even younger people, it’s an uproarious comedy. It’s so strange.
MJ: Yeah, I noticed that when my friend and I saw it, we were reacting differently than a lot of the people around us. And we were like, “Oh, that’s because our experience and understanding is different.”
AD: Right, and I can imagine it’s uncomfortable to not be in on the joke for once. You know? But I think that discomfort is — I mean, I’ve been feeling it my whole life.
EM: I think that’s the best thing about the show: whether you enjoy it or not, or whether you agree with these characters and the choices they make, it creates a conversation. I think that’s the best thing about it. We’re talking about things that make people uncomfortable. And we want people to go home and talk about these things. I wish we had talk backs after every show, just to really be able to hash things out. So people are walking away with a clear message of what the show is trying to say, ’cause it can be interpreted, I think, a lot of different ways.
AD: Yeah, I mean it depends on especially what Lucía does or doesn’t do in order to get ahead. I’m sure there are many different perspectives on that, and whether that is okay or whether it’s not okay.
EM: Like the guy I told you about who’s a DJ, and he brought a date and she was a mexicana — dark skinned from Chicago, who grew up in a rough neighborhood, her dad was in jail for 10 years, and she ran far away from that lifestyle. She moved out here, created this whole new life, and then she saw the show and she loved it and she was crying. And I was like, “But what did you take away from it?” And she was like, “That you have to sell out!” And I was like, “Noooooo!” And this is somebody that doesn’t go to the theater, you know what I mean? She’s from a different world. And I was like, “Nooooo! That is not! No!” But it made me worried. I think people that go to the theater, they get it. But somebody who doesn’t, I’m afraid — is that what they take away? I wouldn’t want that.
MJ: I do appreciate the complexity in this play though, that it doesn’t have a moral absolute. Especially when it comes to Lucía’s actions, I think it can be interpreted in different ways. Do you hate her or do you understand where she’s coming from? That’s something to be discussed. The play doesn’t lay it out, and I like that, because I’m tired of seeing things where the moral is very obvious, especially in the context of a Latino play, to have that complexity in it, I was blown away by it. I think that’s a good thing.
EM: And I can’t think of another play that really talks about the classism thing.
AD: The only other play I can think of is one of Tanya’s plays. She seems to be the only one who’s really talking about it. And it’s an issue that, at least in México, is not talked about to the degree that it should be. So it’s funny that now I’m here and now we’re talking about it.
EM: In México they’re just now acknowledging their African roots, within some of the people. And that’s huge.
AD: And it’s not like it was, and maybe I’m wrong about this, it was never a taboo, or a conscious shunning of all that, it was just kind of like a whitewash. Like it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t matter, it’s irrelevant, why should we care?
EM: Who did that benefit?
AD: Right. And it’s almost infuriating that it’s so passive. It’s not coming out of hatred — it seems to be coming out of ambivalence, which is worse to me. Like I just don’t care either way.
EM: Yeah, that is worse, absolutely.
MJ: Yeah, and I had never seen it addressed before in an English-language play, and to have that addressed to a presumably English-speaking audience is great, because Latinos are usually lumped in as just “Latinos,” and we have so much conflict with each other, not just cultures but also class. And it’s good to show that to people who may not understand. That might help create a better understanding, especially for the immigrants living here, that there are these issues that we’re grappling with. Within our communities there is so much conflict, and it was great seeing that represented onstage.
EM: Yeah, or like Afro-Latinos who come here to the US and have to assimilate into the black culture, ’cause, “Oh, that’s who I am, that’s who I have to be.” And black culture isn’t acknowledging that. So there’s that, too.
MJ: Right, where do I belong in this conversation?
MJ: Not that I want to get too political, but given the current political climate, especially all the talk about immigration and all the negative attention immigration issues are receiving: Do you feel any responsibility as artists, as actors, to address this in some way? To elevate the conversation? And how do you do so?
EM: Yes. How is what I’m still trying to figure out.
MJ: I think even what you were saying before about turning down certain roles is a choice to address that.
EM: Yeah. The last thing I turned down was something where I’d be playing a bay worker, the guys who line up at, like, The Home Depot waiting for work. There’s nothing wrong with that. Like, I want to put dignity into any role, I would play those parts, as long as there’s dignity. If you show how they really are, they’re hardworking, doing it for a reason. But in this movie it was more like the white-savior thing, and I see too much of that. So that was one thing that I turned down. So yeah in that way, I think, I can be active. But it’s also going to the protests, things like that, which we’ve been missing out on ’cause we’ve been in rehearsals. I think in time we’ll know where we can do things.
AD: I think for me the most important thing that I’ve sort of learned over the last couple of years is: What’s the conversation that we’re having? Who’s in charge of framing that? Because if you start engaging in a conversation in the terms that the other person is using, you’re already losing. You really have to reframe the whole thing. And so I think the conversation that this country has been having over immigration, over nationality, over national origin, over race, puts anybody who’s arguing for inclusivity or for a bit more of a cosmopolitan, a political, or an expansive approach at a disadvantage, until we figure out a way to reframe the conversation. A show like Hamilton is, I think, doing an incredible job, and even with that — I love me some Lin-Manuel Miranda — but couldn’t we have a female Hamilton?
MJ: He said we could, actually. He went on record and said he’d support women playing the Founding Fathers.
AD: Oh good! That’s something that I’m excited about, just being able to reframe it so we don’t have this idea of the past or even the present that is shaped by somebody else who might not have the best interests of everybody at heart. I think that’s the most important thing for me. So I think yeah, artists and journalists, anybody who’s in charge of painting a picture of something you can’t see because you’re not there, I think there’s a huge responsibility there and I think, in a way, both those communities are at fault for what’s happening. Because we’ve abdicated that responsibility.
EM: In brown and black communities too, we want people to take part in our struggle, our plight of immigration, etc., but our communities as well have to address the homophobia, the sexism, because those are huge problems among the straight males in the black and brown communities. Still very sexist, misogynist, homophobic.
AD: Looking at it in a real, in a very unfiltered way, makes a big difference. I think a lot of people who maybe have formed certain ideas of Muslim immigrants or Latino immigrants or whatever, those impressions are not because they have been in touch with somebody who has affected their lives in a negative way. Those impressions are there because somebody told them that’s the way it is. So how do you change that conversation? How do you start telling at least the truth?
EM: When people interact with each other, it’s amazing how a lot of that goes away. You know what I mean? Like a lot of the people who are racist, they’ve been in all white communities in, like, the South. And they don’t really interact with anyone else. And even if they do, they’ll say, “Oh but they’re different!” Why are they different? Because you know them! ’Cause you interact with them. ’Cause they’re not this stereotype that you see on TV or the media or whatever. It’s just about interaction.
MJ: Yeah, and I think also greater exposure in the media is important to that effect. Because if you live in a community where there aren’t any Latinos or black people etc., and all you see is what’s on the news or what’s in movies, that’s the idea you’re going to have. And if we start to reshape the ways we’re portrayed that might have a positive effect. It might already be happening.
AD: Right, and it should be a diversity of experience. There are also women like Lucía, who have an ability to blend in and coast through and maybe trample on others to get what she wants. So there’s that too. The Latino experience is extremely diverse, but we’re losing the conversation because it’s been framed as this one or the other thing.
EM: And it’s not.
EM: Another thing we do is we stereotype poor white people, rural America, and I think we need to be better about that. Connecting with those people. ’Cause if we all get together? Forget about it. That’s what they don’t want in this country. They want to keep it separate. And they use race and religion and all these things because it’s important to a lot of these people. But really? If the poor and the black and brown and LGBTQ and the women and the poor white people that have been forgotten in this country got together? I got chills.
MJ: is there a line in the play that resonates with you?
EM: So many good ones! “The language of assholiness is universal.”
AD: I don’t know. Oh, man. I’ve suddenly forgotten all my lines. I think Lucía has a moment where she grapples with maybe not knowing what her artistic contribution should be, so she tells Abel, “I don’t know if I have anything left to say.” That resonates with me because in it is wrapped up not only whether she’s maybe going through some writer’s block or if she considers herself a hack or not, but also who she’s supposed to be and what she’s supposed to say to whom. I think it’s a big question for her, and sometimes it is for me too.
MJ: Who are your biggest influences as actors?
EM: An actor that I’ve always looked up to is Benicio del Toro. ¡Puertorriqueño! Yeah, man, that guy to me is it, because he can play anybody. It has a lot to do with the way he looks, but it’s also how seriously he takes what he does. I aspire to that.
AD: I really like old-timey movies. So I think Greta Garbo, everything she ever did, was insane. She basically invented acting on camera. And then Bette Davis. The first time I saw Jezebel, I was like, “Oh my god!” So yeah. Nobody alive matters! (Laughs.)
MJ: What is your dream role, if you have one? Regardless of ethnicity or gender or any other constrictions?
EM: I like Aaron the Moor in Titus. I don’t think I’d ever play it. Maybe!
MJ: Oh, that’s a good one! Have you done any Shakespeare?
EM: I did As You Like it, [at the Denver Center]. I played Corin, the shepherd.
AD: I think probably Juliet. I just don’t think Juliet is some star-struck swoony ingénue. She’s a rebel! She runs away and gets married to someone she just met! And she fights with the guy all the time!
EM: That’s a Latino relationship right there!
AD: (Laughs.) Yeah! And you don’t see that. So I’d love to do that. Also if somebody reads this and wants to let me audition for the role of Hamilton, I will take that!
MJ: So I did a little research and I saw that you, Annie, co-wrote a short film and you, Eddie, I saw you were working on a script. Do you have aspirations as writers as well as performers, and how’s that going?
AD: I definitely write. I go back and forth between deciding whether what I write is meant for my own personal enjoyment or whether it is something that I should make, and I think at this point, given where we are, I think it’s something I should make. So originally I was supposed to produce a web series, but then I booked this role, so I’m pushing it to spring. So I’m excited about that.
EM: You’re doing it!
AD: Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely! This has been a pet project for a few years now so I’m excited to get it off the ground.
MJ: What’s it about?
AD: I think, I’m not 100 percent sure on the title, but I think it’s called Kink, and it’s about a young woman who decides that she wants to be an escort to provide kinky services and what that entails. So she, you know, lets people lick her toes or that sort of thing. Yeah. And what that journey is. She’s also somebody who maybe isn’t that comfortable with her own sexuality, so learning to deal with that.
EM: I have two or three ideas for scripts that I’ve been thinking about for two years, but I wrote one short film. It is done. I just haven’t shown it to anyone. I have Tanya and another friend that I keep on saying, “I’m going to send it to you guys! I’m going to send it to you guys!” It’s inspired by the neighborhood I grew up in and Catholic school and basketball, which was very important, the community got into it more than they probably should have. These were eighth graders playing, and I’m pretty sure they were gambling on the side, and people fixing games. Like this is an eighth grade game, but they were the priests, the altar men, the cops. Yeah so it’s about that but exaggerated a little. Elements of comedy. The main character’s just this kid who wants a pair of Reebok pumps, and he’s got these whole Payless-type shoes he’s had for five years, they’re two sizes too small, but he still brushes them with a toothbrush to clean, and it’s sort of what he decides to do to get the Reeboks and all these situations he ends up in.
AD: Don’t you and I have a thing we’re going to work on now?
EM: Oh, yeah, what was that idea?
AD: We came up with something in the middle of rehearsal.
EM: And we were like, “We need to work on this.”
AD: What was it? It was like — oh what do you call those competitions?
EM: Oh, yeah, it was about in South Texas, at a grade school, a competition for El Grito, but how it’s all boys who compete in these competitions and there’s this little girl who wants to compete, but everyone’s like, “No, no, no, you don’t do that.”
AD: I think it’d be a short film. Just about that.
EM: I don’t even know, somebody was talking about it and we started riffing and then we were like, “We need to write it.” I know nothing about South Texas (laughs).
AD: That’s okay, I’ve been there (laughs).
MJ: You should definitely work together again because you have great chemistry onstage.
EM: Aw, thank you.
MJ: Finally, why should people come see this play?
EM: I think for the reason that we said earlier, about the conversation that can be had after seeing the show. Seeing something that you probably haven’t seen before about Latinos onstage, which is the classism. And it’s funny, it’s a good time! And it’s by one of the most important playwrights that we have right now, Tanya.
AD: Yeah. The same.
Annie Dow was born and raised in Monterrey, México. Regional credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Hero) with the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC alongside Kathryn Meisle, Derek Smith, and Tony Plana; as well as the world premiere of Tanya Saracho’s Song For the Disappeared (Mila) with the Passage Theatre Company in New Jersey. In New York, she has participated in the development of new plays and musicals at CAP 21, Baryshnikov Arts Center, The New Victory Theater, Playwrights Realm, and The Lark. She has recently appeared onscreen in LMN’s I Love You…But I Lied, as well as Netflix’s “The OA” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” Annie is also a veteran commercial actor and voiceover artist, appearing in multiple national and regional ads in both English and Spanish. She earned her BFA in Drama and Psychology at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Eddie Martínez Chicago Theatre credits include: Parachute Men as Andrew (Teatro Vista), Big Lake Big City asStewart (Looking Glass Theatre), Our Lady of 121st Street asPinky (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). Denver Theatre credits: FADE as Abel (Denver Center Theater Company), As You Like It as Corin (Denver Center Theatre Company). Film & TV credits include “The Dilemma”, “The Break Up”, “Boss”, “Chicago Fire”, “Sense8’, and “Sirens”.