July 2, 2019 at 10:15 am PST | by Staff reports
Another successful ‘Brown and Out’ in Boyle Heights

Scene from one of the productions at Brown and Out. (Photo courtesy Brown and Out)

There’s something about the power of the Latinx community when it comes to arts and entertainment and word of mouth grassroots marketing. We over index in social media and we feel the need to spread the word when something is exceptionally good. Moreover, we feel the need to come back multiple times with our cousins, family, neighbors, etc. to enjoy it again and again. Add Brown and Out 5 to the list of masterpieces to reap the benefits of the Latinx dollar. But does it stop there? Is there a domino effect that can lead this group of talented LGBTQ artists on the Eastside across the bridge to the gates of Hollywood? Is that even a goal?

A recent article on this publication’s digital site on Brown and Out 5 has garnered more than 200 shares to date and dozens more happened when each cast member or producer shared it on their own personal pages. Sold out performances and special features week to week to keep the audiences engaged and coming back are an added component that the producers were adamant about integrating into the shows and plays nicely with how diverse each short play is written and portrayed.

One of the three producers of the festival, Abel Alvarado, explained the importance of involving the audience week to week. It allows the audience to feel immersed in the experience and connects them to the production on a more personal level. We really believe in REPRESENTATION, so with the audience talk backs, we are putting not only our stories and production front and center, but also the amazing talent representing various segments of the community.

It worked. Brown and Out 5 will close this Sunday with back-to-back shows and a  successful run, not to mention more critical acclaim and buzz than ever before. The appetite is there for queer Latinx stories. But is this enough for a community within a community that just wants to make sure their stories are heard and represented in an authentic way? Is there room in today’s television and film landscape for these festival stories and talented writers to share the LGBTQ Latinx experience, alongside current hits like “VIDA” and “Pose?”

Filmmaker and Latina transgender activist “Lady Diana” – Diana Feliz Oliva, thinks so. Her short film “ Tacos y Tacones” was the first ever film to be shown within the Brown and Out theater festival and has gotten rave reviews and love from audiences week to week. It is currently making the rounds for film festival submissions.

“ I wrote this film to give visibility and an authentic voice to Trans Latina stories.  I wanted my film to reflect the real issues that many Trans Latinas encounter on the streets and some of the brutal honest conversations they have,” added Feliz Oliva. A self-proclaimed perfectionist she is making a few changes and has already set her sights on Hollywood and Netflix. “I think this film can be a pilot for a Netflix series. I want to see Trans Latinas portrayed accurately, demonstrating their fierceness and resiliency as a community.”

Producer of the festival, Matthew Ramos, pulled double duty behind the scenes as he also directed “Tacos y Tacones” and championed for the originally planned play to be created into the short film. “ I knew that it had to be a film because the script was so funny it could be interpreted as superficial. By casting real Trans women of color we were able to capture all the emotional colors without giving the opportunity to the audience to clock the legitimacy or integrity of the story.”

When talking to anyone involved in the festival it is clear that this is just the beginning for them. You can see that drive – that fire in their belly that is sure to get them to the next level. They would love to see a Brown and Out Film Festival in the future and will get back to the drawing board for Brown and Out 6 before the summer is over and even envision a Pride festival at the iconic Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.

Alvarado closes by quoting the infamous, Dr.Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror, “Don’t dream it, BE IT!” Brown and Out does just that.

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