Rita Indiana. (Image: Roey Yohai/Roey Yohai Studios)

Rita Indiana. (Image: Roey Yohai/Roey Yohai Studios)


In Her New Show, Rita Indiana Confronts All Kinds of Ghosts

By Isabelia Herrera

"The performance is a way to guide 'our ghosts' to a better place," said Indiana about the Americas Society-commissioned show to The New York Times.

“In the time you dropped a chorus, I wrote five novels.” 

It’s the kind of shot that only Rita Indiana could fire off in a song. The lyrics — which appear in “Como un dragón,” the lead single from the musician and writer’s last album, “Mandinga Times” in 2020 — encapsulate the interdisciplinary abundance she has cultivated over the last 20 years. They also show off a slick-talking, Caribbean kind of realness, which lives in the characters that populate her world. 

On a recent Friday afternoon, Indiana was running around at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, posing for photos and working on set decorations with an assistant. She and her wife, the Puerto Rican filmmaker Noelia Quintero Herencia, were putting the final touches on a multimedia performance called “Tu nombre verdadero” (“Your Real Name”), which debuts on Friday at the Clemente’s Flamboyán Theater. […]

The theatricality of “Tu nombre verdadero” draws on Indiana’s teenage years in the independent Dominican theater group Teatro Guloya, where she studied alongside the visionary actors Claudio Rivera and Viena González. Quintero Herencia has worked as a director, prop designer and set builder in most of Indiana’s films and music videos, and said the piece will feature dreamlike visual projections. “Tu nombre verdadero” is the “inevitable fate of our practices,” Indiana added. 

While conceptualizing the show, commissioned by the Americas Society, the couple navigated a wave of death, both personal and collective. They mourned the millions lost in the pandemic, as well as close friends, relatives and beloved musicians, like Quintero Herencia’s mother, the Dominican painter Jorge Pineda and the merengue icon Johnny Ventura. In part, the performance is a way to guide “our ghosts” to a better place and process our memories of them, Indiana said. […]

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