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biography

Mexican director, actress, playwright, performance artist, scenographer, entrepreneur, and social activist Jesusa Rodriguez has been called the most important woman of Mexico. Often referred to as a "cameleon," Rodríguez moves seemingly effortlessly and with vigor across the spectrum of cultural forms, styles, and tones. Her "espectáculos" (as both spectacles and shows) challenge traditional classification, crossing with ease generic boundaries: from elite to popular to mass, from Greek tragedy to cabaret, from pre-Columbian indigenous to opera, from revue, sketch and "carpa," to performative acts within political projects. The work she has written and/or directed and acted in includes adaptations of Shakespeare (¿Cómo va la noche, Macbeth? 1981), opera (Don Giovanna 1983-7), pastorellas (Fue Niña; Sor Juana en Almoloya 1995, NarcoPastorela), cabaret (Cielo de Abajo. Cabaret Prehispánico 1992; Sufragio pero me aguanto 1992; classic Greek tragedy (Crimen 1989, 1992), revue and sketch (Critina 1994; El Conde del Orgasmo 1996; 1993), melodrama (El Pecado Neoliberal 1994;) and conventional Western-style theater (El Concilio de Amor, adaptation of Oskar Panizza’s The Council of Love, 1988, 1995).

Jesusa Rodríguez has collaborated internationally, most recently on the award-winning Las Horas de Belén, A Book of Hours (1999) with Ruth Maleczech and New York-based Mabou Mines, for which she and Liliana Felipe were awarded an Obie for Best Actor. In 1977 she received a Rockefeller Foundation Grant to complete the film adaptation of the opera Cosí fan tutti. She has staged her shows around the world including in the U.S., Peru, Argentina, France, and Germany. A social activist, Jesusa has worked with street children; presently she, along with Liliana Felipe and Regina Orozco, have been traveling to indigenous areas Mexico, doing cabaret workshops with indigenous women community leaders. Rodríguez contributes regularly to Mexico´s most important feminist journal, debate feminista.

Humor, satire, linguistic play, and the body are constants in her productions. She seeks to render corporal and, thus, visible, the tensions between the discourses in operation on and through the individual and collective body. Rodriguez’s energy is intense and her commitment non-negotiable, always interrogating the nature, site, and consequences of power and its representation. Insistent upon her independence from government sponsored cultural agencies and established institutions, Jesusa and her Argentine companion, Lilian Felipe, own and manage the cabaret/bar, El Habito, and the adjacent theater, La Capilla theater in Coyoacan, Mexico City. In these off-off spaces, and with the collaboration of her theatre cooperative, Las Divas, Jesusa has produced hundreds of shows since the 1980s. Numbers, however, do not give an indication of the depth and breath of Jesusa Rodríguez’s artistic production and the central role she has played--from the margins--for over three decades in the cultural, political, and social stages of Mexico.