Make The Connection

August 15, 2022 | By Cole Hatcher

Elizabeth Sumoza ’25 and Olivia Fietzer ’23 stand outside New York’s Repertorio Español performing arts theater, one of the sites they visited for an OWU Connection research project. (Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Sumoza)

Exploring Latinx Theater

OWU Group Studies Early Modern Works Staged in New York, Colorado

Elizabeth Sumoza stands outside the New York Public Library.

Name: Elizabeth Sumoza ’25
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Majors: Theatre and Sociology-Anthropology
Minors: History and Spanish
OWU Connection Experience: Travel-learning experience to New York and Colorado supported by an OWU Connection grant

Sumoza traveled for a week this spring to New York City and Denver to complete a research project titled “Exploring Latinx Productions of Early Modern Hispanic Texts.” Sumoza traveled with Olivia Fietzer ’23 of Dexter, Michigan, and professor Glenda Nieto-Cuebas, Ph.D., OWU’s George and Louise Peters Professor of World Languages and Cultures, Spanish, using an OWU Connection Theory-to-Practice Grant.

“We went to NYC to watch the Repertorio’s production of ‘La Dama Boba’ by Lope de Vega as well as interview a few actors and the creative director of the company,” Sumoza said of the group’s educational adventure. “Then we went to Denver, Colorado, to watch a production of ‘Quixote Nuevo’ by Octavio Solis as well as interview him and the director of the production.”

Why This Spoke to Me

“I chose this experience because while taking Professor Nieto’s class on Hispanic culture. She noticed how I applied a lot of my perspective and experience with Theatre to our discussions.

“When she proposed this trip to me, I knew that it would be a way to bring my love of Theatre and my Hispanic heritage together in the “real world” of Theatre. Knowing I would be able to speak to directors and scriptwriters was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.” 

Elizabeth Sumoza tries on a knight’s gauntlets at the Denver Museum of Art, a highlight of her OWU Connection experience studying Latinx theater productions of Early Modern Hispanic plays.

My Favorite Moment

“Outside of watching the plays (of which my favorite was ‘Quijote Nuevo’), my favorite moment was being able to explore the beautiful Denver Art Museum.

“Since it was a small museum (compared to something like the MET), they were able to include a lot of interactive parts of their exhibit. For example, their armor exhibit had sections where people could feel what it was like to look through a knight’s helmet or wear their gauntlets, which was something I’ve wanted to do since I was little.

“The whole museum was colorful, giving it a very cozy, intimate feel, and that was especially impactful in their Indigenous culture exhibit (showcasing both past pieces of art as well as current pieces accompanied by videos from the artists) and their fashion exhibit displaying a line done by a Mexican artist who wanted to use it as social commentary on the experience of people in both Mexico and the United States.”

Lessons Learned

“There were a lot of experiences during the trip that allowed me to contextualize stories that we talked about in Professor Nieto’s class (like the aforementioned interactive armor experience, which allowed me to realize why the idea that Don Quixote as an old man traveling through the desert in armor is a terrifying ordeal and why people are so adamant about getting him back home).

“However, I think the biggest piece of insight I got was the glimpse into the hardships and experiences of people who work in the theater industry. As someone who wants to be an actor and then possibly transition into being a creative director, talking to people with experience as both of those roles was something truly invaluable, especially since they were also Hispanics, and they understand how important representing our culture and sharing our art is with a world that still has far to come in celebrating voices of color.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“Experiences like this one! When I heard about the OWU Connection and all of the opportunities that OWU provides for students to travel and gain experience in that way, I knew I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity, especially since OWU does a lot to make it affordable.”

My Plans After Graduation

“As of now, I’m considering getting a Master’s in Library Science in the event that rather than ending up going down the Theatre path, I go down a route that uses my interest in History and Sociology. I’m hoping that it will open up more opportunities for being a museum librarian or handling archives of a wide variety of places (possibly including theaters!)”