Interview with Samuel Valdez 8/18/2020
Samuel Valdez is a playwright, director, and performer who has built his career as an individual artist since the beginning. In December 1991, he graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in theater, emphasis in directing. Between 1992 to 2002 he directed several Latino plays such as ROOSTERS by Milcha Sanchez Scott, THE CONDUCT OF LIFE by Maria Irene Fornes, and THE GUITARRON by Lynne Alvarez. Mr. Valdez has also directed and produced several of his individual works to include SOY YO/IT’S ME, P13-VIVE, AMBOS/BOTH and OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE (A devised piece created with Andrea Assaf). His most recent piece was a show about the creation and development of man and how he fits into it as a Latino disabled man, titled AND HE BECAME MAN.
Samuel Valdez was the recipient of a 2011 NALAC (National Association of Latino Arts & Culture) grant, and has received travel subsidies from Alternate ROOTS, National Performance Network (NPN), and the National Arts and Disability Center (NADC). He has served on the board of Centro Cultural de la Raza, National Performance Network (NPN) and is on the Executive Committee of Alternate ROOTS. In 2016 he received the Ashley Walker Social Justice Award from the City of San Diego for his work in the arts community. Recently he joined the Advisory Committee of National Disability Theatre, a new organization supporting professional disabled theater artists. For the last 10 years, Mrs. Valdez has traveled all over performing and doing artistic activist work. In 2013 he formed his own theater group, CARPA San Diego who is always working to produce different art works.
What projects are you currently working on? I am currently in the midst of trying to raise funds to write a new play focusing on telling untold stories of disabled individuals who want to share publicly their life struggles as a way to motivate others to continue their life’s journey. I am also continuing to work with the national arts organizations I am involved with to bring justice to artists and their communities.
How has the pandemic affected or shifted your practice? COVID-19 has shifted my practice in the way of reimagining new forms to bring artwork into people’s homes, digitally. To create a system where I as an artist can uplift the emotional lives of the artists I work with as well as the public who we serve.
What has your journey been like as a creative/artist/small business-owner? The effort of creating space for me as a disabled artist in San Diego and Tijuana has been a challenge. At the end of 2012, arriving home from a successful tour of a play I had worked on in collaboration with two theater colleagues, I was faced with the question, “So what do I do now?” Between 2010 to 2012, I had made connections all over the US with many people in the arts field and was given the opportunity to write and perform a play in three cities around the country through two grants. I was also able to begin, in my own way, defining the capabilities and strengths of disabled artists around conversations that were arising. To have the opportunity to sit at these tables and have my voice heard was very honorable. Unfortunately, I found myself returning home with all this enthusiasm not knowing where or how to channel it. For the past 12 years the alternative art scene in San Diego had taken a huge hit. Competition between art organizations as well as individual artists for the limited number of resources/funds given, started to impact the arts dynamic in the city. The small theaters whom I worked with/out of and where I had built my trajectory became extinct. Thus, I set myself to build a new arts organization in town where total inclusion was the focus. Part of an article I wrote for Alternative ROOTS. To continue reading go to: https://alternateroots.org/the-struggles-successes-of-building-an-inclusive-artsactivist-community-on-the-border/
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists/creatives? La Lucha Sigue (The struggle continues), we as artists need to keep on doing art, no matter what rocks life throws at us. I cannot let any obstacles get in the way of delivering the messages I was created to give. Do not let no one or nothing stop you from delivering your message.
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