Name: Christine Quintana
Hometown: Vancouver, BC (born in Los Angeles, CA)
Current Town: Toronto, Vancouver, and suitcases around the country
Affiliations: Co-Founder and Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre, currently in residence at Tarragon Theatre
Q: How do you self-identify?
A: I’m Mexican-American on my dad’s side and Canadian of European descent on my mom’s.
Q: Tell me about Selfie.
A: Selfie is a TYA show for teenagers about consent. I’ve been working on this script for about 5 years, and I was initially drawn to write it after reading about the awful sexual assault cases in Maryville and Steubenville. They were so extreme and so terrible—I wanted to translate that into a Canadian context, and ask very honestly, how might this happen in our schools and communities. We’re so quick to say “well that’s something that happens elsewhere,” but it isn’t—these things happen to teenagers, they happen to adults, and I think we are nowhere near where we need to be in the conversations about consent. These assaults don’t always look how we expect them to look, and the perpetrators are people in our own communities. I wanted to create a script that teenagers might be able to see themselves in and open the door for educators to have conversations about consent.
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: During my residency at Tarragon Theatre (one of Canada’s most prolific developers of new plays) I’m working on a script called Clean. Frankly, I should be writing it right now, but…
I’m in the midst of a lot of personal discovery about my own identity as a mixed-race person. I created a framework to separate those two identities—in Sarah, a white Canadian woman and Adriana, a Mexican woman. It’s been challenging but exciting to flesh out these two characters, because it’s meant a lot of research and careful consideration to reach beyond my own experience (for example, while researching some popular bridesmaid activities I came across the Instagram hashtag #samepenisforever, and let me tell you that is an inexplicable and hilarious wormhole to fall into…). I’m interested in exploring white feminism, perceptions of Mexico and Canada, how we process trauma, and just to give a deep dive into the lives of two women—something I think we’re still lacking on stages in Canada. Of course, I’m terrified of various things—appropriating voices, failing to challenge stereotypes and stigmas effectively. I draw inspiration though, from shows I’ve seen that so smartly and provocatively challenged the status quo, and the necessary ingredient is risk. I just have to overcome the fear first, which is perhaps why I’m writing this right now and not my play…
Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?
A: Two years ago I produced, performed in, and wrote the script and lyrics for a musical called Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical. It started as a scrappy little indie production and ended up getting picked up for a professional national tour. The core artistic team was made up of women under 30. I never thought something I could write could have that kind of resonance for people, nor did I think we could get the attention of professional companies. It’s inspired me to take myself seriously—to keep my politics sharp, to keep focused on making work for other people, and to challenge myself to be bold in what I want out of the theatre industry.
Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?
A: I have a few, and the best part about being a Canadian theatre artist is that you will likely meet your heroes—it’s a small country with a tight-knit arts community. I remember reading Guillermo Verdecchia’s Fronteras Americanas in an anthology in university and being absolutely shocked to see Latinx content on the syllabus. Marcus Youssef has been a mentor and a champion for me since I started writing professionally—I worked for his company Neworld Theatre for 5 years, and have always been floored by the courage, heart, and sharp sharp politics of his work. In the last year, it’s been a great privilege to work a bunch with Carmen Aguirre, an incredible playwright, novelist and actor. She’s fearless and holds a space as a woman of colour who is unapologetically political and a vital community leader in the theatre and the greater community.
Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?
A: Growing up in Canada, I didn’t see a lot of Latinx representation around me. Because I pass for white, I let other people dictate the terms of my Latinx identity—people straight up told me I “didn’t count,” and I accepted that narrative despite the best efforts of my mom (who is white herself) to encourage me to embrace my heritage. Finding the Latinx theatre community in Vancouver through Carmen Aguirre changed everything for me—they accepted me exactly where I was, and continue to hold space for my growing understanding of what that means for me. Find your allies, whoever they may be, who will hold space for you and your work—your understanding of yourself is at the core of everything you do as an artist. You cannot escape it, and it is your unique and important way of seeing the world that is worth sharing. Don’t deny yourself—and everyone else—the chance to look through your eyes.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: I am often congratulated on awards and accomplishments that are actually for ChristinA Quintana. I could not believe that there is another Latinx playwright with almost the exact same name as me. I hope we meet one day! Maybe you clicked on this link looking for her. Wouldn’t be the first time…
***For more on Christine Quintana, see:
- Christine Quintana’s Personal Website
- Follow Christine Quintana on Twitter
- Profile on Christine Quintana (Siminovitch Prize)
- “East Van Love Song” – Christine Quintana
- “Aqui Hogar and Other Simple Palabras” – Christine Quintana
- “Thank You for Coming – audiences as seen from the front line” – Christine Quintana (DC Theatre Scene)
- Christine Quintana’s theatre company: Delinquent Theatre