Fresh off winning the McColl Award, CarlosAlexis Cruz stepped onto the stage in a white jumpsuit, looking like a gardener or a house painter.
“I’m your typical Mexican gangster,” said Cruz. “I can play any of those typical Latino characters. ‘Salsa dancer to the left.'” (laughter)
“I’ve worked for Telemundo!” (more laughter)
“That is not just who I am.”
“I am not your gardener. I’m also an actor. I’m a director. A stage producer. I founded my own company. I’m an artist.” He’s also a circus performer!
Cruz created a contemporary circus show that got funding and toured the West Coast. He’s since produced other shows, all advocating for Latinos.
“Once in this business, you get caught in that particular box that people want to put you in. There’s way more to people than that.”
“Once I found I could say the things that matter to me, I decided to do whatever it took to pursue that path.”
Now Cruz finds himself in a different situation. “I’m now a college professor in a new city in a new university.”
Cruz teaches his students, “It’s more important to do art in first person, than not. Than just portraying characters. … You bring so much to the table that makes you a three-dimensional figure.”
Addressing the cultural segregation in a southern city like Charlotte, Cruz observed, “We celebrate culture in different sectors and then we ignore them.”
Cruz is trying to address that through new theater art that empowers people to find their voice. “We’re finding new ways to tell stories,” said Cruz. “This is just, for me, the beginning.”
Liveblog written by Steve Knight