GROUP: TENA & ELSASSER
PLAYWRIGHT AND ACTRESS
Guera is based on Lisandra’s life growing up with a drug-addicted and incarcerated mother and an alcoholic father ill-prepared to raise children on his own. Lisandra ran away from home, spent time in foster care and on the streets and through theater and her own indomitable spirit and talent, graduated magna cum laude from The Theatre School at DePaul University, one of the top ten theater conservatories in the country.
For years, she supported herself as a waitress and has used that experience and identity to create a one woman show set in a Mexican restaurant. The play – structured as a menu of scenes listed as appetizers, entrees, and desserts selected at the waitress’s invitation and thus changing with every audience’s choices – challenges conventional notions of form and content.
The goal of the group residency is to provide Lisandra with time and place to work intensively with a director and producer to continue writing, revising, and finessing the current work in progress into a polished script and to produce and tour it throughout New Mexico and nationally in major cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. The group’s ultimate goal is an Off Broadway production.
Lisandra Tena, an actress and writer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, began her acting career at Working Classroom in Albuquerque. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Her one woman show, Guera, premiered at the first annual YO SOLO Ttheatre Festival for Latino theater at Collaboraction Theatre Company and was also performed at The Paul Carpenter y Salazar Theater in Albuquerque, NM. She is an ensemble member of Collaboraction Theatre Company in Chicago, creating original work that explores current critical social issues. In 2013, the Chicago Tribune named her “One of the Top 10 New Faces in Chicago Theater.” She has performed in over a dozen theater and film productions, including a guest star appearance on the hit NBC show Chicago PD. She is a founding member of Sprouts, an international theater ensemble and recipient of a 2015 fellowship from the Women’s International Study Center to develop Guera for a national tour.
Nan Elsasser – the founder and past executive director of Working Classroom, a multicultural, intergenerational arts program in Albuquerque NM and a founding member and producer of Sprouts International Ensemble Theater Company. At Working Classroom, she co-authored and produced Suenos sin fronteras/Borderless Dreams, The Price of Silence/El Precio del silencio, The Rubber Band and La luz en mi alma/The Light in My Soul.Through her commitment to work by contemporary playwrights from historically ignored communities, she also produced plays by Maria Irene Fornes, Naomi Iizuka, Rogelio Martinez, KJ Sanchez, Octavio Solis, Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lynn Alvarez. Her writing on cultural criticism and research on the politics of literacy have appeared in numerous journals, including the Harvard Educational Review, International Journal on the Sociology of Language, College English, Humanities in Society and Journal of Education and in the Albuquerque Journal, In These Times, Arete andCrosswinds Weekly. She co-authored Las Mujeres: A Conversation from a Hispanic Community, an oral history of three generations of New Mexican women and has taught in the University of New Mexico’s Navajo Teacher Education Project, University of Albuquerque, the College of the Bahamas where she was a Fulbright Fellow, University of the Virgin Islands and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She was a fellow in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders in the Arts, the recipient of the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and Traditional Home Magazine’s Classic Woman Award in recognition of women who change the world.