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UTEP Series Tackles Minorities in Performing Arts

Last Updated on September 01, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Originally published September 01, 2020

By Daniel Perez

UTEP Communications

The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Liberal Arts has relaunched its Dean’s Speaker Series in a virtual, more inclusive format for anyone with the internet and an interest in how underrepresented individuals can prevail in the performing arts.

Playwright Anne Garcia-Romero will speak virtually Sept. 2 as part of UTEP's 2020 College of Liberal Arts Dean's Speaker Series that is focused on how minorities can succeed as arts professionals. Photo: Barbara Johnston / University of Notre Dame

The series started as an in-person event last spring, but most presentations were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now sessions will be conducted via the Zoom video teleconferencing system. Participants can find the meeting ID and password at the college’s website. Each lecture will be recorded and made available on the website under the “Dean’s Series” tab.

The next presenter will be Anne García-Romero, an author, screenwriter and playwright whose long list of titles have been produced in London and U.S. cities from coast to coast. She has studied in New York and Chicago and is a founding member of the Latinx Theatre Commons. García-Romero will start her two-hour presentation at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020.

Each guest will follow the original theme of “Spring into Representation.” Speakers will share their artistic journeys, which includes their scholarly work, and focus on their efforts to be successful as arts performers where minorities are under-represented, said Adriana Dominguez, Ph.D., assistant professor of theatre arts and the series’ lead organizer.

“We want people to understand how we can utilize art to combat underrepresentation,” Dominguez said.

Among those in the virtual audience during a July presentation was Ana Miramontes, a 2019 UTEP graduate who earned her bachelor’s degrees in theater performance and media advertising. She viewed the presentation from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she is a Master of Fine Arts candidate.

She listened to the inspirational story of Martine Kei Green-Rogers, an associate professor at the State University of New York in New Paltz. The educator also is a dramaturge, which is a literary adviser who consults with playwrights and edits their scripts.

Miramontes, who earned the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s 2018 National Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress for her work in UTEP’s “Lydia,” said she was inspired by Green-Rogers’ struggles to become part of the theater industry in spite of being a minority.

The native of Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, said the dramaturge’s words gave her hope and an insight into how minorities can question the status quo of artistic and academic institutions and influence the future. She said she looks forward to the rest of the series because the speakers are experienced professionals who are knowledgeable about representation in the arts.

Denis O’Hearn, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said this series was created to bring scholars together, generate new ideas and enhance cooperation with other universities.

“COVID got in the way, but every cloud has a silver lining,” O’Hearn said. “We may find it possible to do even more virtually than we could have done before the crisis."

UTEP’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Chicano Studies Program, and the Department of Theatre and Dance collaborated to sponsor the Dean’s Speaker Series, which will complete its inaugural year in September.