By Chantal Encalada ’21 (La Mujer Azul in Augusta and Noble)
I’ll start this by saying: I know I’m young, so young. But one of my biggest fears as I continue to grow up is forgetting. I became the luckiest girl when I knew Augusta and Noble would be part of my life, and I’ve been desperately latching onto every moment I could savor with it. The past two weeks have rushed past me… I remember looking around the Robert J. Orchard when we finally moved in, realizing the world we had created in a small Paramount rehearsal studio had expanded incredibly. It was thrilling to have all these people diligently working to make this story happen—down to the very TH149 crew members, who I thank now and forever. Though a beautiful sight, I needed to feel grounded so I spread my body across the stage floor and looked up. The ceiling of the RJO has an intricate gold design that seems to be embroidered onto the blue part, and three long rays extend from the piece. I instantly thought of Augusta and Noble as the Sun with its message radiating into the hearts and minds of audience members. I whispered to myself, “I hope they know it’s real.”
My favorite thing about Augusta and Noble is the multitude of layers it carries. It doesn’t just shed light on the inhumane, inequitable treatment of immigrants in the U.S., it also draws upon the desperate gamble all immigrants pay when they leave everything behind in hopes of the “American dream” when for some, it’s actually the “American disillusionment.” It highlights the very members within our own community that sometimes manipulate that desperation—members like Coyote. I went through a whirlwind trying to understand my relationship as La Mujer Azul with Coyote. On the one hand, I understood the dire circumstances that forced Coyote into his job—seeing jobs scarcely available and realizing it was a new way to make money. And who am I to judge the measures someone takes to make ends meet for their family? But I had an issue with the way Coyote went about his job. He charged ridiculous fees and was rarely considerate with the people he led across the desert. I often thought back to my own parents and their immigration story. I knew they were the ones who decided to make the trip across, but part of my human nature wanted to blame the coyote that brought them here and separated them from Ecuador, their family, my brother. But I knew this was not the truth because there are several systems in place to oppress the immigrant community, including coyotes, in the U.S. and in our very own Latin America. I learned trying to conclude a finite reason why immigrants make the treacherous trip across is not always useful because the experience is never the same and never simple.
On the first morning of tech, I heard Mexicana Hermosa by Natalia Lafourcade play and my heart instantly crumbled up. Like Gabi, I’ve doubted my sense of belonging at Emerson and regretted not staying closer to home. Mexicana Hermosa helped me find strength in my ancestry and all the beautiful reasons why I do belong at this school. Projects like Augusta and Noble give me faith and reassurance of the kind of artist I always wish to be. My job is not to represent an entire community or create a piece that will, but instead to speak my truth in hopes that someone will resonate. This marks my last year at Emerson College, and what better way to leave than having this piece of wisdom, and having heard my favorite Spanish song blast in a regal theater that only has white people painted on its walls.
Que las ganas para hacer cambio nunca se desgasten porque nuestra cultura puede calentar hasta los corazones más fríos// Let the desire to enact change never diminish because our culture can warm up even the coldest hearts.
Chantal will take over Emerson Stage’s Instagram account (@emersonstage) on Friday, October 18, 2019. Tune in to our Instagram to follow along on her journey. Tickets to see Augusta and Noble are available at bit.ly/augusta-and-noble.