The latest episode of Out of the Rehearsal Hall features the writer and performer of this season’s The Real James Bond…Was Dominican, Christopher Rivas. He is an incredible storyteller in any medium, and in this episode, he talks about the climate crisis and the beauty of this world, Porfirio Rubirosa (inspiration for James Bond) and just how vital it is to see people who look like you in stories that inspire you, and the power of telling stories from the heart. Geva’s company manager Angela Giuseppetti co-hosts.
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Christopher Rivas is an award winning storyteller, a Rothschild Social Impact Fellow, an essayist and social commentator with pieces in the New York Times, Zocalo, SwipeLife, and Level. He is also a film maker, a podcast host, and a Ph.D candidate in Expressive Arts for Global Health. His mission is to share stories that disrupt what is and create space for what could be. And he wrote and performs The Real James Bond…Was Dominican. Find out more about Christopher on his website.
Image description: Christopher Rivas, a brown-skinned man with short dark curly hair, wears a purple shirt and looks intensely at the camera.
Angela and I had a great time talking with Christopher, and learning about what inspired him to get into theatre, and what keeps him invested in this art form, even when more lucrative opportunities for storytelling exist. He talked about seeing John Leguizamo’s Freak on Broadway (you can watch the film version on Amazon), and the impact that it had on him to see the story of another Latinx man’s relationship with his father. And he talked about a production of Medea at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, which made him want to be part of the magic of theatre – it was the 2002 production featuring Fiona Shaw, directed by Deborah Warner. (Check out scenic designer Tom Pye’s incredible photos from the production.)
And we talked about the stories that he’s thinking about right now. Some of them will take time to marinate, like the story of a 6 state road trip to visit 11 National Parks – which left him feeling keenly the need to discuss our current climate crises. It’s a vast problem to explore, and he’s looking to people like the incredibly Buddhist scholar and systems theorist Joanna Macy for inspiration. And as the late theatre artist Laurie Carlos told him, “it’s not your job to figure it out,” and he knows that the way to tell this story will come to him in time. Other stories, like the ones about racism and colorism in the performing arts, are finding their way into films – like his recent film for the New York Times, called Calm Your Curls.
The conversation of course turned to The Real James Bond…Was Dominican, which will run at Geva in May. We talked about the role of director Daniel Banks on the creation of this story (Daniel will be a guest on the podcast in the extremely near future!). Christopher told us about the impact learning about Porfirio Rubirosa had on him as a graduate student – which came about through a Vanity Fair article. “How would my life be different,” he asked, “if I had seen someone on that screen who looked like me?”
And as we wrapped up the conversation, Christopher offered a beautiful invitation to the performance of The Real James Bond…Was Dominican. We hope you’ll join us for the performances, and check out our great conversation on Out of the Rehearsal Hall.