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Jimmy A. Noriega of Douglas, Ariz., obtained a Ph.D. in theatre arts
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will be an assistant professor of theatre at the College of Wooster. I plan to continue conducting research throughout Latin America, as well as directing plays.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Receiving a standing ovation from sold-out audiences at the Schwartz Center for my play 'Mujeres de Ciudad Juárez,' which was one of the most intense pieces that I have directed- it is about the femicides in Juárez, Mexico, where more than 1,300 women have been murdered since 1993. I also traveled with my actresses to Ecuador to present the play at the Quito International Theatre Festival in March. Being able to present such a powerful show to multiple audiences was extremely memorable and moving. To see all my years of work culminate in these experiences was both encouraging and satisfying.
Why is your research area important/why are you passionate about it?
I am from a small town on the U.S.-Mexico border and am the first person in my family to go to college. My experiences within the borderlands helped fuel my passion for Latina/o and Latin American theatre. It also made me aware of the needs of marginalized populations and the difficulties many people experience because they lack positive representation in public spaces. Many of the artists that I write about come from marginalized positions in their societies - they are immigrants, youth, women and indigenous people. Theatre offers them a voice and space in the public sphere, and a way of empowering themselves and changing the world in which they live. Working with these artists has been moving and inspiring in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
While at Cornell, what extracurricular activities or other accomplishments were important to you or you are most proud of?
I directed 13 productions here, including shows for the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, the Minority, Indigenous and Third World Studies Research Group and Teatrotaller, the Hispanic theatre troupe. Teatrotaller has been most important to me - I directed nine plays for the group. I also presented two plays at the Jerusalem International Theatre Festival, and a play about immigration in New York City and at the Mid-America Conference on Hispanic Literature at the University of Kansas. I am also very proud of teaching six First Year Writing Seminars for the Knight Institute, including courses on Native American, Latina/o, and Latin American theatre and performance and a course on theatre of immigration. My students and I were twice awarded the Spencer Portfolio Award, and in 2009 I received the Achievement in Teaching Award, given annually to one instructor of a writing seminar. I also taught Latina/o theatre and literature courses at Elmira and Auburn maximum security penitentiaries through the Cornell Prison Education Program and Bard Prison Initiative. I will never forget the lessons that I learned in those classrooms and am grateful that I was able to help these men realize a new way of looking at and understanding theatre and literature.
What does your dissertation or thesis cover?
My research is based on fieldwork I conducted with theatre artists in Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and the southwestern United States. I analyzed the influences and effects of politics, globalization, ethnicity, indigeneity and collective memory on performance and protest and explored the ways marginalized communities use theatre to advance their lives and social agendas.