After 8 years, gaycentric theater troupe founder Marco Rodriguez calls it quits — well, after one final show
THE CURTAIN FALLS
"Daddy Diaries: Diary of a Dad Man," Latino Culural Center,
2600 Live Oak St. Aug 28â€“29 at 8 p.m. $25. 214-750-7435. Martice.com.
Eight years might not qualify as an "era" to a geologist, but crammed into those few years, Martice Productions has given Dallas theatergoers a laugh-filled good time with a cheeky brand of Latino comedy.
But as the curtain falls on its final production — as the troupe began, with a play by Hispanic (and now starring) playwright Rick Najera — company co-founder Marco Rodriguez isn’t saying adios necessarily… he’s just not raising the curtain on the next act.
"We’re no longer producing live theater. Martice will become Baru Films," Rodriguez says. "Basically, we’re evolving."
Better not tell the creationists that —it might put them in a tizzy.
Eight years ago, a small show caused waves across the local theater scene. Their production of "Latinologues" was meant to be a one-shot deal. But the comedy struck the city’s funny bone, and the production wound up on top 10 lists.
"At first it was, ‘Who are you guys?’ We heard that a lot. Then it became ‘Thank God.’ We were very much embraced by Latino and gay communities, but then also gringos," Rodriguez says.
What followed was a string of successes that put them on the Latin theater map alongside Teatro Dallas and Cara Mia. They followed up with "Buford Gomez: Tales of a Right-Wing Border Patrol Officer," and "Pico de Gallo" in subsequent years. Due to no-frills production and low budgets, Martice usually broke even or made a profit — something almost unheard of for a new theater company.
And now, Martice ends the way it started.
Rick Najera approached Martice about debuting his newest work, "Daddy Diaries: Diary of a Dad Man" in Texas. Rodriguez saw it as serendipitous: Najera was also the author of "Latinologues."
"When we did ‘Heaven Forbids’ in 2007, that was going to be it for us. But we wanted to say than you and goodbye with more than an e-mail blast," Rodriguez explains. "Lo and behold, Rick contacts us. We thought that was perfect. We started with his work and now we’re ending with it. We’ve come full circle," he says.
But Martice’s evolution into films doesn’t leave its roots behind. Rodriguez likens the future to what Tyler Perry has done with his work.
"There’s a niche. Perry did it with the African-American market. But some of our films will include a gay aspect. My desire is to bring films that are honest, and not condescending or insulting," he says.
As Martice finishes this chapter, Rodriguez wants Dallas to know one thing.
"Audiences — straight, gay, bi, transgender — were always cheering me on. Dallas gave us a platform to explore and we are very grateful," he says.
No doubt the city feels the same.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 28, 2009.