Alumna Spotlight: Challenging Policy and Cultural Norms Through Theatre
By Alexis Rodriguez, Associate Director of Advancement
Marie Shelton ’12 has spent the past couple of years creating Theatre for Social Change pieces in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Last year she directed ¡Ay Mamita! (co-produced by the Teatro Nacional de Guatemala and the Universidad Francisco Marroquín). It was devised, written and performed by a collaborative of artists, activists and students that she assembled called “El Colaborativo.” The play addressed Latin American machista culture by focusing on a Guatemalan law allowing 14-year-old girls to marry while the marrying age for men was 18. ¡Ay Mamita!, a common catcall in Guatemala, is a story about a 14-year-old mestizo girl (1/2 white, 1/2 indigenous) who is married off before her Quinceñera. In other words, she becomes a “Mamita”: a little mother.
Theatre is not an immediate part of Guatemalan culture. It’s not produced except for commedia, melodrama and the circus, and people (especially youth) don’t attend. ¡Ay Mamita! opened to a full house. The play was even attended by Guatemalan congressmen and women as well as American and British ambassadors. Two months after the play premiered, the Guatemalan Congress raised the marrying age for women in Guatemala from 14 to 18.
Marie credits OLP for helping to encourage her artistic side and giving her the courage to attempt things bigger than herself– to tell stories not only for sake of telling stories, but to move mountains. She believes there is power in telling untold stories, and especially stories about women.
Marie just produced Twelfth Night and Alicia en Wonderland – the latter of which was an allegory for the Guatemalan civil war. She will be moving to Los Angeles where she will continue to dive into the deep end of untold stories. She continues to work as freelance model, actress, writer and director. She never subscribed to the “you have to be this OR this” mentality… Instead, Marie proudly says, “I can do it all. That’s an OLP thing.”