Sin Muros: A Borderless Teatro Festival returns to Stages in Houston February 17-20, 2022. Now in its fifth year, the annual Latinx theatre festival continues with a full weekend of performances celebrating the Texas Latinx community. Sin Muros includes staged readings, professional development for teachers, and playwriting workshops. Festival attendees can see new work by writers Karen Alvarado, Alicia Margarita Olivo, Adrienne Dawes, and Josie Nericcio.

In this interview, I talk to the festival producer Lupe Mendez about this year’s festival, Latinx theatre in Houston, and his role as 2022 Texas Poet Laureate. 

Trevor: Sin Muros is back in-person this year after going virtual last year. What can audiences expect from this year’s festival? What’s new?

Lupe: This is the 5th year for the festival and it has grown. This will be a hybrid festival of sorts, we have kept the 4 play reading format that we built upon last year and kept the openness of having one of the play readings be all virtual. It expands our reach, we can cast the acting net a little wider, and it serves everyone one involved with such flexibility.

We also changed the name of the festival. It used to be Sin Muros: A Latinx Theatre Festival, but now we figured to fancy it up a bit: Sin Muros: A Borderless Teatro Festival. We wanted to acknowledge the ever-changing and anti-colonial idea that is this part of the struggle within Latinidad. We all aren’t Latinos or Latinas, or Latinx or Latine, but we share threads across races and gender and ethnicity. 

Trevor: How has Sin Muros grown since the inaugural festival in 2019?

Lupe: I would say we have evolved in a way that speaks to what exists or springs forth from Texas in really cool ways. We have learned to adapt to the pandemic and bring those best practices with us into year five. I think we have broadened our reach—our playwrights can script out characters that can be gender non-conforming, multigenerational, characters who speak in verse in code switched languages, etc. And I think I can say we are now the largest we have ever been; this year’s Sin Muros boasts the largest cast + stage crew we have ever contracted for the festival. 

Trevor: How does the festival fit within the Houston theatre scene? What’s Latinx theatre like in Houston?

Lupe: I think it is a breath of fresh air. I think this festival builds up the playwrights and gives them a great moment to think and see their work on a stage in a low stakes kind of way. We are the dream making sandbox Texas Latinx based playwrights can take advantage of. We keep expanding the idea of Latinidad and I think this is fundamentally important.

Latinx theatre here in Houston is alive and I am grateful for organizations leading the way—Teatrx most especially is doing the heavy lift of putting on plays that are important. I hope Sin Muros helps open new doors to other spaces so these plays can get the full productions they deserve. 

Trevor: In addition to producing Sin Muros, you’re also the 2022 Texas Poet Laureate. How do you see theatre and performance as central to this position?

Lupe: Having worked so long in both arenas—I know just how much work it takes to put on a good show. I have been fortunate enough to have done “backstage” work. I was a PA and SM, worked lighting and tech for plays and the same for poetry events. I have always been in the background, organizing and helping build up space and capacity so others could do their own craft. I have been on stage, as an actor and poet, and I know what it takes to perform, the magic of the moment. I want all those elements to pop off in profound ways for an audience as well as for the performer. I am a better actor/organizer/poet for having had these experiences. 

Trevor: What’s next for Lupe Mendez?

Lupe: Maybe a ham sandwich and submitting a manuscript, two grants, raising a daughter, and maybe a night of dancing, but always, always, I will be reading, I will be writing. 

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Trevor Boffone.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.