By Holli Harms
Tia Talk is a daytime talk show, a friendship gathering, and an audience participation piece that asks the question, Who am I?
The stage is set up much like a local talk show. Two chairs a table and our co-hosts, the beguiling hilarious and profound, Amelia Bethel, and Karen Loewy Movilla. Two young women trying to figure out how much Latina they are and how can they validate that heritage. What is expected of them by their families and their ancestors and where and how are they allowed to define themselves as humans and as women?
They try to make sense of their imposed cultural expectations as Latina women, as independent 21st-century women, with color taking on as much importance as it does everywhere else in the world. Light skin women and men receive much more respect and care than darker skin women and men.
Television and social media tell women again and again what they should look like and act like. In this day and age, our bodies are being judged continuously on social media. We are inundated with body image and how we measure up OR DON’T.
Culturally, many Latina men live in a world where the importance and stature of machismo is something to be emulated (This not saying that all do, Amelia and Karen want us also to remember to never clump humans into stereotypes.) Male machismo applies restrictions to men and to women as well. It means that women must look and act a certain way. The place of women in all cultures has been one of clear distinct rules and Amelia and Karen are questioning this, why, why, why does the feminine existence come with particular expectations stemming from the male perspective and are they denying their culture and themselves if they reject it?
Karen is from El Salvador and Amelia is from Colombia. and the two co-hosts bounce and play with the similarities and differences and ask the audience to answer questions they have about their countries, creating moments of instructional fun. We learn about the importance of fashion in both countries (for men and women), and the colors of Latina textiles that are so subtle they cover not four but twelve seasons. We are specifically enlightened to, “…remember there is no such thing as a casual outfit.” The one thing both countries share, The Macarena.
Cue music and Amelia and Karen spring from their seats and into the universally known Macarena. A dance that is often done at weddings in this country because of its ease and group participation possibilities. They ask that any in the audience who knows the arm movements join in and many do. They begin with the joy of the dance and its collective quality and quickly dissolve into the repetition of the assumption of doing a dance that is their dance and they must, must, must do it again and again until they face one another and ask that lingering question, “Who am I?” Only coming to the conclusion that cultural history is absolutely a part of us, part of who we are, but the question is how and in what situations do we balance that heritage with who we are as modern individuals?
Amelia and Karen have created a wonderfully entertaining evening of questions about not only who they are, but who we all are in our lives. Their wonderful banter draws us into them and asks us about our family and our heritage, and how that all layers on ourselves as individuals. In the end, the main question “How do YOU define yourself?” can only be answered individually.
The Tank’s LimeFest Core Productions, part of its 20th Anniversary Fall 2023 Season invites new works by emerging artists and creative teams who identify as women, nonbinary, or gender non-conforming to make way for more gender parity in the performing arts.
Tia Talk is Co-created and performed by Amelia Bethel and Karen Loewy Movilla.
Performances begin August 5, 2023
Limited run through August 27, 2023
Performance dates: **Sunday, August 6 at 3pm, Wednesday August 9 at 7pm, Friday August 11 at 7 pm
**Saturday, August 12 at 3 pm, **Sunday, August 13 at 7pm, Tuesday August 15 at 7pm, Thursday, August 17 at 7 pm, **Saturday, August 19 at 7 pm, **Sunday, August 20 at 3pm, Wednesday August 23 at 7 pm, Thursday, August 24 at 7pm, Sunday, August 27 at 3 pm
Running Time: 90 minutes
The Tank’s 56-Seat Theater, 312 West 36th Street