Today we remember the courage, love, artistry and truth-telling of Theater Artist Diane Rodriguez. 16th Street was privileged enough to be able to be the second Chicago Theater (after Teatro Luna’s fantastic production) to produce Diane’s LIVING LARGE IN A MINI-KIND OF WAY I was in the audience at Teatro Luna’s premiere at the Viaduct in May of 2012 and was able to meet playwright/director Rodriguez after seeing actors Amanda de la Guardia, Miranda Gonzalez, Sandra Marquez, Madrid St Angelo, and Isabel Quintero knock it out of the park. It was hilarious, magical, and loaded with digs on immigration, language, class, privilege while being positive and romantic all at the same time. How did she do that?!
Because it was May/June in Chicago – always a challenging time to get people to come in from the outside to sit in a dark theater – not many folks as it deserved saw their incredible production. I asked Alex Meda and Diane Rodriguez if 16th Street could produce it the next year in a remount. Diane did not hesitate. She was so generous.
When Diane’s busy schedule prevented her from coming out to direct, she asked me if I would – we both shared the same sense of humor – and I loved her play so much! Sandra Marquez and Isabel Quintero were both unable to reprise their roles, so the lovely Rose Guccione and the hilariously brilliant Marilyn Camacho joined the cast. With designers Christine Pascual, Mac Vaughey, Jessica Kuehnau (inspired by Brian Sidney Bembridge’s original set), Jesse Gaffney, Steven Yaussi. We had a blast, Diane was so supportive all the way through and made it out for opening.
Diane and I both were natives from San Jose, CA so we shared that in common, yet she had experiences I only witnessed from the outside. Diane made me feel anything was possible artistically and for humanity. I could feel her joyful spirit anytime we spoke. She energized me. We are heartbroken that she no longer walks among us. She was a mentor to so many including Esteban Andres Cruz. Thank you Teatro Luna for introducing me to Diane Rodriguez and her words. Thank you, Diane, for sharing your self and your stories and your truth-telling with us. We will do our best to carry it forward. — Ann Filmer