Flor is fifteen foot tall; she is from Sonora. Toby is fifteen foot tall; he is from Arizona. Flor and Toby are meeting for the first time this November in Nogales, where the US/Mexico border wall runs through the middle of town. Toby and Flor will transcend all kinds of boundaries and go whatever distance is necessary to unite. Let them guide you to see if it is possible to see ourselves reflected in our neighbors and let our humanity take us Beyond The Wall.
After the election, we were thinking a lot about how to connect our artistic work with the current political climate. The weekend after Trump’s inauguration, Jess took a young friend to the playground in Brooklyn, and ran into one of her Kindergarten classmates and his dad, a Latin American immigrant. As the kids ran off to play, one of them hopped over the fence around a tree and they began to play around and through it. Considering how the kids didn’t care about the differences between them, or their different cultural backgrounds, Jess wondered whether we could use giant puppets to recreate that same spirit of curiosity, turning the infamous “wall” into an object of play.
Ana jumped immediately on board, and suggested we involve the local community in the puppetry construction and performance. We hosted our first event in November of 2017, and in collaboration with community partners Stephanie Bermudez, Raul Leyva, Startup Unidos, Nogales Community Development, Colectivo Taco de Perro, and more, the project grew from one puppetry performance into a two-day binational festival including an art exhibition, a block party, and a concert. We were joined by the filmmakers from 24 Fotogramas who are making a documentary feature film about the project and the community.
We are so excited to help show the world the truth about life at the border, and the incredible community that comes together there.
Ana Diaz Barriga (Lead Artist, Producer) is an Mexican theatre artist focused on international collaborative performance and specialized in puppetry and improvisation. She has completed theatre studies in the UK, graduating in 2015 from an MA at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She has improvised in the UK, Italy and Mexico and was co-founder of the experimental theatre company, BARK, in London. Ana has performed in festivals including the Edinburgh Free Fringe (UK, 2011), Sprint Festival (UK, 2015), and the Prague Quadrennial (CZ, 2015), and has worked with companies including Marionetas de la Esquina (MX), FiguraT (MX), and Look Left Look Right (UK). She has trained in puppet manipulation and construction with PIP (CZ), Yael Rasooly (IL), Improbable (UK) and Gyre & Gymble (UK), among others. Currently she teaches acting and is a puppeteer in the play El Viaje de Ali in Mexico City.
Jess Kaufman (Lead Artist, Producer) is a theatre and performance artist with credits ranging from the Camden People’s Theatre in London (Sprint Festival, Camden Fringe Festival) to Off-Broadway in New York (Dear Edwina), to regional theatre (Arizona Broadway Theatre, Allenberry Playhouse) and US national tours. She is a founding member of Sub-Sublime, an international performance collective, and hosts a monthly artists’ salon in NYC. Current projects include a musical about an Orthodox Jewish sword-fighting teenaged girl, and a deaf-accessible play about for young children in collaboration with The Deaf & Hearing Ensemble (UK). Her writing about theatre has been published in ArtsPraxis and Theatre and Performance Design, and she co-edited a special issue of Connection Science on Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance. BFA University of Miami, MA Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. www.jesskaufman.net
Raúl Humberto Leyva (Nogales SON Event Leader) is a journalist born in Guaymas, Sonora. He is currently the coordinator of the Colectivo Cultural Taco de Perro, which has been promoting all kinds of arts at the border for over 25 years.
Stephanie Bermudez (Nogales AZ Event Leader) is a Nogales-based leader and entrepreneur. She founded Startup Unidos, (startupunidos.com) a leadership podcast that spreads actionable advice from people across international borders who are seeking to startup, invest or participate in AZ/SON regional innovation and entrepreneurship movements. She is a member of the Tuscon Hispanic Chamber Foundation and serves as the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Tuscon’s Program Manager and BIG IDEA Instructor. www.stephaniebermudez.com
Zulema Rodriguez (Organizer) was the deputy national director concerning mass incarceration for the political advocacy group Center for Community Change (CCC) until early 2016. She has worked on immigration reform with the SEIU, implementing field strategy nationwide holding elected officials accountable in their support for a comprehensive immigration reform. Born in Puerto Rico, Zulema now lives and organizes in Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. An active environmentalist, Zulema's current projects focuses on repurposing materials into original upcycled accessories.
Michael Duncan (Producing Intern) is a sophomore at Kansas State University studying theatre, business and leadership studies. He has been involved in theatre throughout his academic career and local community in his hometown, Topeka, Kansas. He hopes to pursue a career in performance along with theatre business and management.
Cindy Lilia Iniguez was born and raised in Nogales, AZ. She has always wanted to give back to the place that she calls home. Now, as an adult, she is able to give back to the community. "Nothing has ever felt so rewarding."
Ysabel Pierce (Arizona Event Team) was born and raised in Nogales AZ on Franklin Street behind downtown stores ("so La Placita was my playground") motivating her to bring life back to what was once the heart of this border city. Employed at Santa Cruz Valley USD#35 as a Senior Office Assistant, she takes pride in community involvement and has been a member of organizations including the Nogales Women's Club and the Girl Scouts (Leader & Co-Leader), and has served on the Board of the local Little League, March of Dimes, and Relay for Life.