All theatre majors at Hope College must hold an internship, fulfill a major design or stage management role in a faculty-directed production, or complete an independent project. For his final capstone experience, senior Jose Angulo is writing a play titled “Bleach.” It is based on Jose’s own experience as well as the experience of other Latino students navigating the opportunities and challenges as minority students at Hope College. Jose will direct a reading of “Bleach” in the Studio Theatre of the DeWitt Center on Tuesday-Wednesday, April 16-17. The readings will start at 7:30 pm and are free.
Jose and I spoke about the impetus of his project and his goals for the performance. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
How did you decide to write this play?
Last summer I had the pleasure of attending the Latinx Theatre Commons, which took place in Chicago. It was there where I got my inspiration to tell stories of people who are like me. I did not realize how under-represented we are until it was right in front of my face. The Latinx theatre artists presented their work with such passion and finesse at this festival, and I was in awe. For my final independent project as a senior theatre major, I knew I wanted to do something personal that would represent my college journey. Through my experience in Chicago, I realized that focusing on the Latino culture here at Hope was a perfect point of departure for me.
What story do you hope to tell?
I began writing a play that would tell the story of struggling Latino students – and ultimately, about one in particular, whose attendance is threatened by the reallocation of financial aid funds. The story is based on my own experience along with that of my friends and highlights some of the issues we have dealt with while trying to graduate.
Whom do you want to reach with this play?
I would like the story to speak to the Latino audiences in the area. I know many minority students have had similar experiences, and their voices deserve to be heard.
How did you approach the writing process?
Initially, it was difficult to figure out the path I wanted to take. I was not sure if I wanted the story to be hopeful or if it should serve more critically as a ‘reality check.’ I wanted to portray my generation accurately and appropriately as well. Frankly, I often feel that we are not portrayed with the intelligence we really have or with the responsibilities and pressures that we bear. For minority students, there are additional concerns rushing through our heads as we live and study in an environment that is quite dissimilar from our own cultures and homes. We recognize a college education as a necessary and valuable step in survival but the obstacles towards graduation can be formidable.
What are your hopes for the artistic future?
I want my piece to be a step in changing what we are so used to seeing in entertainment. Minorities make up such a huge portion of the United States, and it is only fair that we see people like us up there. We have so much talent that is yet to be seen and appreciated. My piece is truly for the culture and for the opportunity of other Latinos.
Jose has acted in numerous productions for the college’s Theatre Department. Already as a freshman, he played two major roles: Associate Pastor Joshua in The Christians and Jean in Miss Julie. He has also performed in Jane Eyre: The Musical, Love and Information, and Shiloh and played the title role in The Miser. This past fall, he appeared as The Narrator in Into The Woods and will finish his acting training at Hope by portraying Trigorin in the department’s upcoming production of Anton Chekhov’s Seagull.