¡Hola! Soy Raquel
!Hola! I’m RKA (but you can call me Raquel) and I’m an artist, an activist, and an awesomepreneur. In 2009, I decided to split my time between Chicago and Chiapas to work as a theater facilitator with rural youth. Halfway through law school, I took a life-changing human rights internship in Mexico, where I realized I wanted to be on the ground instead of in an office, so I packed my bags and headed back down south. I set up shop at RKA ink and today I work as a freelance writer, web designer, and arts educator. (Much to my parents’ chagrin, I’m using my undergraduate degree in theater, after all.) A devoted Boal disciple, I am passionate about the power of art to educate, empower, and energize people to take action.
I love to travel and work with new groups, but my heart belongs to Las Jades y El Cielo (The Jades and the Sky), the high school theater collective I direct in the Tzotzil community of Chalchihuitán. Originally Las Jades, the ensemble began with a group of ten young women from the town’s newly-established high school and now invites all students to participate in extracurricular theater education. In 2010, Las Jades were invited to perform their first original play, ¡Yo Soy! Mujeres Fuertes en la Historia Mexicana (I Am! Strong Women In Mexican History) at an indigenous women’s empowerment forum in San Cristóbal de las Casas. A few months later, the ensemble staged the world premiere performance of celebrated Tzeltal playwright Isabel Juarez Espinosa’s work El Padre (The Father) about domestic violence, alcoholism, and spousal abuse in Mexico.
This year, my co-director and former student, Maurelia Raquel Dominguez Pérez, and I traveled to Guatemala for the 2do Encuentro Latinoamericano de Teatro del Oprimido (the 2nd Latin American Reunion of the Theatre of the Oppressed) where we spent ten days learning about theater and resistance in the Americas and led a team-building workshop with a youth association outside of Xela, Guatemala. Watch the video on our two-day workshop. Upon our return, Las Jades became Las Jades y El Cielo and this summer the new group debuted their first original telenovela or social soap opera, Amores Chalchihuitecos (Chalchihuitecan Love) written using Boal-based exercises in storytelling and improvisation. Based on a true story, Amores Chalchihuitecos explores violence against women and femicide in Mexico. Click here to watch with English or Spanish subtitles. You can also find it on the sidebar to your left.
In July, Las Jades y El Cielo was honored to perform Cargando Leña (Carrying Firewood) at high school graduation, a play about literacy and alcoholism by Isabel Juarez Espinosa. It was a special occasion for me because it was the first time I was dressed in the Chalchihuitán traje (dress) and I felt exceptionally beautiful wearing it and showing my love for my students’ magnificent Tzotzil culture. I can’t wait for next year’s graduation!
The goal of Las Jades y El Cielo is to provide students in Chalchihuitán with extracurricular arts education that promotes cooperative team-building, creative problem-solving, and self-expression. Contact me if you are interested in organizing a workshop for your group or organization.
Work With Heart
I fund all my social projects in Mexico with my (he)artwork as a freelance writer and web designer at RKA ink. My motto is work with heart and I blog about it at my second eHome, Awesomepreneur. Don’t miss my 365 Tips For Working With Heart or my weekly spotlights on Awesomepreneurs We Love.
Take a Look Around
RKA in LA is both a chronicle of my (he)artwork in Latin America and a gazette of art for social action in the Americas. For photo updates on all my latest workshops and performances, check out the RKA photo gallery or browse the RKA in LA video library.
Thank you for sharing in my journey. I invite you to come back. Often. If you like what you see, feel free to drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you! Or you can make a donation to support my arts education projects.