Posts Tagged Atacama

A Conversation with Lara and Rick of Full Circle Theater’s ATACAMA

“Everyone I know has a story about how theatre chose them; once it catches your attention, you can’t look away.”

Picture of Lara Trujillo and Rick Shiomi. She has long dark hair and wears a red v-neck shirt. He has short hair and a gray sweater over a blue polo shirt.

Lara and Rick at a rehearsal of Atacama.

Theatre came to Lara Trujillo by way of music. The actor and director of Atacama, and Full Circle Theater core artist, began her theatre career in musical theatre and opera. Though she still is still an opera performer, Lara says that “a play without music was something new and challenging, and [she] loves to take on new challenges”. However, it was musical theatre that led her to meet Rick Shomi when she starred in a production of Into The Woods put on by Theatre Mu. 

Rick’s story is a little different. The successful playwright, Full Circle Theater core artist, and Park Square Artistic Associate originally wanted to be a prose writer. He says that he didn’t discover playwriting until he wrote Yellow Fever and realized that “theatre was a place where [he] felt at home.” It was this play that placed him as a key figure in Asian-American theatre. When Rick was growing up he had “no idea of theatre in the Asian-American sense.” Lifting up minority voices and stories and ensuring that theatre is diverse and inclusive is now a core part of all of the work that he does. 

When Full Circle Theatre was formed, centering diversity began with the formation of a core artistic leadership group that was intentionally composed of artists who represented a variety of different identities. Park Square’s new leadership core also reflects intentional diversity. This intentional diversity is then applied to all aspects of theatre, from selecting each season’s shows all the way to ensuring that each play is accessible to a diverse audience. As Lara notes, “plays that showcase underrepresented narratives and voices are often the ones that stay with the audience the longest.” Plays that touch on universal and social justice themes serve as conversation starters. She recognizes that audience members are often looking for more than entertainment, saying “Park Square audiences are hungry for great quality work and work that provides not just entertainment, but helps them to find meaning.”

One play that combines meaning and artistry is Atacama, an upcoming show that Full Circle is putting on in collaboration with Park Square (on stage April 20 to May 1). Though this show is set in Chile several years after the fall of the Pinochet Regime, it conveys universal messages about grief and connection, and draws parallels between history and the present, while warning about what can happen when a country and a people are deeply divided.

The combination of artistry and values is also something that occurs with collaboration between theaters. As Rick notes, “partnership allows theaters to combine values and resources, strengthening productions.” He also says that “it is always good for the community when theaters work together because it makes theater communities more active and stable.” Though Rick’s leadership role in both Park Square and Full Circle certainly serves as one driving force behind the partnership between the two theatres, he also says that, at least for Atacama, Park Square simply “felt like the right fit,” especially with the theatre’s increased focus on social justice themes.

For both Lara and Rick, the future of Twin Cities’ theatre lies in these ideas of collaboration and diversity. As Lara says, “theatre is now about sharing new narratives or unique stories, and anyone can throw their hat in the ring.” Through partnership between theaters, more stories can be told and “the universe of the theatre community can expand.”  And, with Rick and Lara’s help, Park Square and Full Circle will be at the forefront of this new wave of theatre. 

Interview and article by Marketing Intern, Rachel Christensen

ATACAMA is on the Park Square Proscenium Stage April 20-May 1, 2022.

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