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New Musical Theatre: Michelle J. Rodriguez '12 is PRESENCIA

Fri, April 19th, 2024
8:00 pm

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One event on Sat, April 20th, 2024 at 2:00pm

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Book, Music, & Lyrics by Michelle “Micha” J. Rodriguez ’12
Directed by Mei Ann Teo

What would you do if you were gifted a succulent plant that bursts into flames, speaks to you, and calls you to be a leader? Presencia is a devastatingly funny millennial musical that reinvents the Moses story for women of color thrust into positions of power, told with Bible-fan-fiction vibes, varying degrees of reverence and satire, and a vibrant anthemic musical score. Joined by her squad, Presencia experiences the pitfalls of modern tech and reaches towards true connection on the search for her own Promised Land. Expect miracles, magic, divine feminine energy, and the healing power of presence and intuition in this ultimately joyous new musical. The secret is in her name…

Michelle J. Rodriguez – composer, lyricist, bookwriter and actor in the lead role of Presencia Michelle J. “Micha” Rodriguez (she/her) writes and performs in the worlds of music and theater. Raised in the Pacific Northwest and Kentucky by Puerto Rican parents, Michelle’s work explores kids-of-immigrants stories, divinity, queerness, intuition, joy-as-resistance, healing and spaces in-between. Michelle is the winner of the 2022 Helen Merrill Award for playwriting and received a 2022 grant from NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater. Musicals in development include PRESENCIA (composer/lyricist/bookwriter/performer), which was most recently developed with a residency at BAM and a concert at Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City, HOMBRES (composer/lyricist) at Portland Center Stage with William Carlos Angulo and Isaac Gómez, RAIMUNDA (composer/lyricist) with Noelle Viñas, which was developed through Ars Nova’s Van Lier Fellowship and Maker’s Lab and at NYSAF, and LIVES IN LIMBO (lyricist) based on the book by Ricardo González. Her music project MICHA became a finalist for NPR’s 2018 Tiny Desk Contest with her song “Nena Nena Nena,” praised for a “bilingual set spanning laid-back southern soul and Latin pop flare” (NPR). Micha lives in Brooklyn, NY and when she isn’t writing music she enjoys surfing, reading and designing objects. BA Williams College. Link to full bio.

Artist’s Statement

My name is Michelle J. Rodriguez, and I’m a writer, composer, lyricist and performer, working in the worlds of music and theater. Raised in the Pacific Northwest and Kentucky by Puerto Rican parents, my theatrical work explores kids-of-immigrants stories, divine femininity, intuition, joy as resistance, healing and the spaces in-between. My musicals often trace the paths away from and towards each other in families, in communities, and in our ever-changing world. My songs are prayers and incantations towards the world I want for myself, my family, my friends. I’m constantly in bewilderment and wonder about the world around me, and my characters find themselves there too. Drawing from a background playing the fiddle, singing in church, and reading folktales and fairytales voraciously as a child, I write musicals about regular people exploring big ideas about who they are and how they fit into their communities. I often center joy, presence and intuition as the keys towards liberation. As the title of Wen Stephenson’s book on climate justice asserts, “What We’re Fighting For Now Is Each Other.” That’s a heart-message from all of my musicals.

Presencia is being produced in partnership with The Bushwick Starr and will make its NYC premiere at the Connelly Theater in June 2024.

A Special Collaboration with The Bushwick Starr.


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