Thursday, April 8, 2010
Exiles by Carlos Lacamara The Hayworth Los Angeles
The Hayworth ( Vagabond Theater )
2511 Wilshire Blvd | MacArthur Park
Al lado del antiguo restaurant de
Nati Cano La Fonda
By Carlos Lacámara
In the summer of 1980, Fidel Castro announced that he would allow Cubans living in The United States to retrieve their relatives from the island. However, when their boats arrived at Mariel, they were only allowed to take certain members of their families aboard and were required to take criminals and mental patients along with them back to the U.S..
Rolando and his son carry a convicted murderer, a raving lunatic and, worst of all, Rolando’s brother-in-law who had betrayed him to the Communists twenty-years before. When a storm leaves their tiny vessel helplessly adrift at sea, the tension escalates as the refugees find themselves in a desperate battle against the elements, each other and the demons of their past.
Performances Friday & Saturday at 8PM and Sunday matinee at 3PM.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Born November 11, 1958 (age 51)
Years active 1982- Present
Spouse(s) Carol Barbee
Carlos Lacámara (born November 11, 1958), sometimes credited as Carlos Lacamara or Carlos LaCamara, is a Cuban-born American actor and playwright who has had a long career on American television, making his first appearance in 1983 on the sitcom Family Ties. Lacamara has mostly played supporting characters and guest star roles, with the exception of his roles as Paco Ortíz on the sitcom Nurses, and as Ray García, the family patriarch on The Brothers García.
1.1 Early life
1.2 Acting roles
1.3 Personal life
3 External links
Lacámara was born in Havana, Cuba and moved to Washington D.C. in 1960 because of the Cuban Revolution. After that, He moved to Puerto Rico, and then to California, where he resides now. He attended UCLA.
In the early 1990s, he played orderly Paco Ortiz on the NBC sitcom Nurses. He also made recurring guest appearances on the crime series Silk Stalkings and Close to Home. The latter series, in which Lacámara plays a medical examiner, is rare in casting the actor in the role of a highly educated professional, although his recent guest roles have shifted from the early trend to cast him as a waiter, valet, or other entry level worker.
In 1995, he played the assassin Retaya in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Improbable Cause". In 1997, Lacámara also played one of the starring roles in the educational series Connect With English, a fictional drama written for students of English as a Second Language.
Although characters from Nurses occasionally appeared on Empty Nest, from which their show had originated, Lacámara's only appearance on Empty Nest was in an unrelated role in 1995, after Nurses had ended its run. Lacámara's role in The Brothers García reunited him with former Nurses co-star Ada Maris. He was also important in the Brother's Garcia Special (The Mayan Curse).
He has recently made an appearance on Fox's TV series Lie to Me as inspector Mike Adams.
In 2006, Lacámara's play Nowhere on the Border won first place of Repertorio Español's, a theatre company in New York, MetLife Nuestras Voces National Playwriting Competition. The play was produced at Repertorio Español in the fall of 2007. As well, his second play Havana Bourgeois performed in New York, and later played in Los Angeles, California.
He lives with his wife, Carol Barbee, and his sons Lucas Alberto Lacámara (b. 1993), and Diego William Lacámara (b. 1997), in Santa Monica, California.
He is the brother-in-law of Hal Bogotch, the former computer teacher at VGW.
An Interview With
Nowhere On the Border
Nowhere on the Border focuses on the eternal struggle of immigrants crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. What inspired you to write about that?
An actor friend gave me the idea. We were having a cup of coffee, and he said, "You should write a play for us." I said, "Okay, I will!" But I was lying. I never wrote a play for a specific actor, least of all myself. "And I got a great idea," he continued. "A Minuteman and an illegal immigrant meet in the desert." Not bad, I thought. So I wrote the play, grew a big mustache and played the Mexican guy. My friend played the Minuteman. It was cool.
Now, I liked my friend’s idea primarily because I’m an immigrant myself, and I have great compassion for the immigrant’s journey. Unlike many other immigrants who assimilate and then disparage those who come after them, I know that the contemporary tide of Mexican immigrants will one day become as American as apple pie. All Americans are immigrants and all immigrants become American. That's the great strength of this nation.
How did Nowhere on the Border wind up at Repertorio Espanol? And how did you and director José Zayas work together to shape the production?
I entered the play in the Met Life Playwriting Contest sponsored by Repertorio Espanol. I was fortunate to win an award and even more fortunate to have Repertorio Espanol produce the play. They did a wonderful job. What's more, seeing the play presented in both Spanish and English was a revelation. If all American audiences were bilingual, I would always have the play performed in both languages.
The director, Jose Zayas, shaped the production all by himself. I only saw one dress rehearsal before opening night and gave him a few notes. I was very happy with his directing, and he can direct any play of mine he likes. The cast was also wonderful. If you’re a producer, hire them. Quickly.
I understand you were inspired to start writing plays after you took a trip to Cuba several years ago. Could you elaborate on that?
My family left Cuba when I was two years old. My father did not want to live in Miami, consequently, I grew up in Los Angeles with no Cubans around. Although I visited family and always thought of myself as Cuban, I was not intimately involved with the Cuban community or its history.
When I was forty years old, a friend of mine told me he was going to Cuba, and he wanted me to join him. He said, "I want to go before McDonald's gets there." I replied that the Cubans didn’t have much to eat; they could probably use a McDonald's or two. As we argued politics, I realized that I didn’t have many facts to back up my opinions. I knew from family members that Cubans were suffering and that the Communist system was repressive and ineffectual, but I didn't know why. And what if my relatives were wrong? They were certainly wrong about rock 'n' roll and long hair. After all, I'm a liberal Californian. Maybe all those Miami Cubans were just angry conservatives that wouldn't admit the good Castro had done. Maybe my friend was right to want that bastion of socialist purity to remain unsoiled by fast-food commercialism. I had to go see for myself.
So, I read a bunch of books on Cuba, both pro- and anti-Castro, and finally learned the history of my native country. When I flew to Cuba — legally with my wife, not my buddy — I went with an informed, yet open mind.
But I wasn’t prepared for how emotional the experience would be. Cubans are suffering. They're poor, frustrated and despondent. Here's an example of almost every conversation I had there.
CUBAN DUDE: Hey, where you from?
ME: The United States.
CUBAN DUDE: How come you speak Spanish?
ME: I was born here.
CUBAN DUDE: Yeah? (looking around to make sure no one else is listening) You are so lucky to have gotten the hell out of here!
Then they would launch into their own personal tale of hardship. There's little food in Cuba, less medicine (unless you're a Communist Party member or a foreigner), and virtually no hope for a better future. The American embargo is not to blame. Cuba trades with every other country in the world. The system fails because it prevents individuals from bettering their own lives. A Cuban can work their butts off or sit on them all day long. It makes no difference. Their lot in life has been decided by the state, and nothing they do can change that.
The Cuban people reminded me of adolescents who are not allowed to grow up. Big Daddy is old and decrepit, but he will not let go of the reigns and let the child become a man. This idea became the theme for my first play about Cuba, Becoming Cuban. Two more plays followed.
That trip to Cuba changed my life. It inspired me to write my first successful play, and it brought me much closer to my family and culture.
You live and work in Los Angeles, which is dominated by the film and television industries. Why, then, did you decide to write plays in a city where live theater doesn't have as high a profile?
I grew up in Los Angeles and received a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts at UCLA. So I chose to pursue a career in acting here, where TV and film paid good salaries and where I had the support of my peers, rather than move to New York where I knew no one. And, fortunately, I have been able to support myself as a television actor for almost thirty years. But I’ve always preferred the live stage. So, in my spare time (and unfortunately, we actors have a lot of that), I performed in plays for no money. At first, I did the plays in order to get television work. Now I work in television in order to do the plays. In an effort to generate my own projects, I began writing. After years of effort, I got better at it, and today someone's publishing something I wrote.
But let me add that, L.A. does have theatre. With all the actors, writers and directors working here (mostly from New York), we have a lot of pent-up talent in search of artistic outlets. As a result, L.A. produces a great deal of small, unprofitable, but often wonderful theatre.
Of course, nothing compares to New York City. It's always been a dream of mine to work in New York. Maybe one day.
Acting is your day job, which puts you in a very rare position. Over time, what did it take for you to achieve full-time working actor status?
Theatre made it possible for me to have a career in film and television. In Los Angeles, casting directors and agents frequent small theatre in order to find talent or to support their clients. After college, a group of fellow UCLA alumni formed a theatre company, called City Stage. We performed plays in downtown lofts on shoestring budgets. One of our members was Lance Guest, the future star of The Last Starfighter. His agents at the time, The Gage Group, came to see our production of Romeo and Juliet. Twenty-eight years later, I'm still a client.
It also turned out that I was fortunate to be Latin. It gave me a niche to fill. Back in 1981 when I started, being Latino seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. I was accustomed to playing all kinds of roles in college, but in television all Latinos were gang members or… actually, that was it. Gang members. I had to create a hoodlum character in order to work. But soon opportunities began to expand, and I could play illegal immigrants, janitors and the husband of the pregnant woman who can't speak English, so the TV show's star has to deliver the baby. (I played that role on Night Court, Empty Nest, Mr. Belvedere, and the John DiResta pilot.) From 1991 to 1994, Ada Maris and I played series regular roles on the NBC sitcom, Nurses. During our first season, Ada and I were the only two Latinos on prime-time TV (Jimmy Smits had just left L.A. Law and had yet to start NYPD Blue). Today there are many great roles for Latin actors on television. The best of which are playing just regular Americans.
How did you first get involved in acting and the arts?
I became an actor to meet women and go to parties. It worked.
I'm guessing you eventually stayed in show business for other reasons. But, I'm curious: how did you reach the conclusion that the arts were your best option for meeting girls and going to parties?
I was a late bloomer. I was short when I entered junior high school, which placed me low in the blackboard jungle food chain. I pretty much kept to myself until I decided to take a drama class as an easy way to get English credit. When I entered that classroom, I felt like I had walked out of the wilderness and into civilization. In this wondrous world of dramatics, students were amicably socializing, not worrying about looking tough or cool. I saw a boy and a girl walking down an aisle arm in arm, laughing, and I thought, "This is for me." And, it turned out that I had a knack for acting, so I stuck with it.
As the school years went by, I knew that, eventually, I would have to make a serious decision about my future. Should I do the sensible thing and study business or law? Or should I stick with drama and keep going to cast parties with pretty girls? I decided to do the sensible thing… someday. Fortunately, that day never came.
Do you have any particular influences as either an actor or a writer?
My greatest influences as an artist were my mother and my father. My mother was an aspiring opera singer in Cuba before the Revolution, and my father was a graphic artist and painter. Through their example, they gave me something absolutely crucial for a young artist: The idea that it is actually possible to have a career in the arts. Looking back over my youth, it depresses me to realize that hardly anyone else offered me that encouragement. During all the years I spent at UCLA, for example, I only heard one professor ever tell their students that a career in acting was possible (our movement teacher, Tom Orth). The rest merely reproached us with tales of hardship. "You have to sacrifice everything to be an actor," they'd sneer. "Marlon Brando did sense memory exercises all day long, ate only raw cabbage for 30 years and never washed his underwear just so he could spend his last few nickels on back row seats to every single show on Broadway. Can you do that?" It was all crap, of course. I guess they were just bitter about their own failed careers. Maybe they once had professors like themselves.
Fortunately, I had my parents'example to keep me going. Most of my peers, unfortunately, did not.
What's coming up next for you?
I've written a new play, called Exiles, that deals with the Mariel Boatlift of 1980. It's the last in a trilogy of plays about Cuba that I've written. I like this play. It's got romance, insanity and lots of violence. I can't wait to get it produced.
I also have a recurring role on a new television show for the Sci Fi Channel, called Persons Unknown. It's a cool show about a group of people that wake up one day in a strange town, and they can't escape. It's sort of The Prisoner meets Lost. I play a cop outside the town that helps a regular character try to find out what happened to his ex-wife.
Interview with Carlos Lacamara was conducted by Michael Criscuolo January 2009.