Dallas Observer Masterminds 2014: Meet the Winners of Our Annual Art Awards

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David Lozano: Theater-maker With a Latino Perspective
According to the 2012 census, 42.4 percent of the Dallas population is Latino. It's a statistic of which Cara Mía Theater Co. artistic director David Lozano is very aware.

"Latinos in the U.S. don't just need cultural or ethnic arts, but these culturally specific arts experiences can be extremely powerful," Lozano says. "I have seen people walk out of the theater saying that they have never seen anyone like them before on a stage. Or they'll say they have never seen their own story or their parents' story in a play before."

Growing up Latino in Dallas in the '80s, Lozano attended Jesuit College Preparatory School. He says his parents spoke Spanish to each other but never to the kids. When he began to study acting at Richland College and later at University of Texas at Dallas, theater became an entry point to understand many of the Latino struggles that he may not face himself. By crafting and producing shows like Crystal City 1969, which commemorates the historic Mexican-American student walkouts, Lozano says he began to further understand the discrimination his parents faced as Latinos in Texas.

"I think this is our company's fundamental mission," Lozano says. "To allow Latino audience members to process their own complex experiences. A live theater performance can do that in ways that a news article, a lecture, a movie, film or book can't."

When Adelina Anthony and Eliberto Gonzalez founded Cara Mía in 1996, Teatro Dallas was the only other company interested in Latino stories, but they were pursuing a global perspective. Cara Mía became the first company dedicated to the Chicano experience, to the stories of Mexican-Americans. Lozano has served two different terms as artistic director of Cara Mía, returning to the company in 2009 after a brief absence. Both times, he's focused on reaching the entire Latino community with new, locally focused work.

"Why produce a play about Latinos in New York or Los Angeles, written in the '80s or '90s, when our artists and I have our own experiences, ideas, collective imaginations that we can draw from?" Lozano asks. "I didn't want our company's voice to be dictated by a playwright. I wanted our plays to be the voices of our artists."

In 2012, The Arts Community Alliance (TACA) awarded the company a grant to develop a trilogy of plays about American immigration based on interviews with immigrants in Dallas/Fort Worth. The first in the series, The Dreamers: a Bloodline, premiered at the Latino Cultural Center in June 2013.

"The natural makeup of our company creates a perspective that goes beyond just the lens of the U.S. experience," Lozano says. "I feel that we have achieved the ability to listen to what's going on in our Latino community in Dallas and feel what is important to them." -- Lauren Smart

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