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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Oct 19th, 2017

THE SEX FILES: Migguel Anggelo discusses his new one-man show Welcome to La Misa, Baby

Migguel Anggelo is a Venezuelan-born, Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter, dancer, and performer. He studied voice at the Conservatory of Music in Cologne, Germany, has written music throughout all of his journeys as an immigrant in several countries, and has released two albums. Migguel performs regularly at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater in New York City, where he has presented his shows, Another Son of Venezuela, I, Inmigrante and Between Dreams. Last summer, Migguel Anggelo and his band, The Immigrants, performed a ten-city concert tour of Russia as a cultural attaché under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State. Presently Migguel is presenting his new one-man show (co-written and directed by David Drake, musical director, Mau Quiros) Welcome to La Misa, Baby, featuring a veritable gallery of characters found in the most sacred of places in queer culture: The Gay Disco. The show runs 10/26 at 7:30pm, 10/17 7:30pm and Sunday 10/29 at 3pm as part of The Clemente Cultural Center’s first-ever year-long “Fearless” series. “Fearless” concept is to present LGBTQ artist responses to Orlando and continuing attacks against the LGBTQ community. I had a chance to sit down and chat with Migguel about the important work he is doing.

Is it easier or harder (and how in what ways either or both) to mount a show with these themes in the current climate?

I think these themes are just hard period.  While our show Welcome to La Misa, Baby was inspired by the tragedy of the shooting in the Pulse nightclub, we are actually using the setting to explore a gallery of characters you might find in a gay disco.  I become many personas throughout the evening as a way to explore the gay, Latino, immigrant experience.

The piece is funny and touching, but it’s not a graphic illustration of the horrible hate crimes that occur with far too much regularity these days. Our goal is to stay poetic and to experiment with character.

Is NYC really the best place for theatre, or am I just prejudiced living here as I do?

It’s a pretty awesome place for theater! There are just so many wonderful things going on, you couldn’t possibly take it all in even if you have the time (and the money!). I have only lived (and worked) in NYC for a little over three years, so I am still a kid in a candy store and get so much inspiration everywhere.

But you know what? Growing up in South America and touring on the stage for many years throughout Latin America, there are truly wonderful cities where theater is extraordinary as well. I think Buenos Aires is one of the top cities for theater in the world too.

Do the music/songs come first and they beget a certain skeleton or theme you can see them working into, or do you start with a genesis of a theatre piece idea and work to fill that in with songs you specifically set out to write?

In my case, the lyrics come first. I first write all my songs, and I then share them with my collaborators Mau Quiros and David Drake, and they enter into the collaboration then. We see a common thread in the songs that inspire a piece, other times we have an idea for a piece in which we write songs specifically for. Most of the time a piece has a little of both strategies all wrapped up in one.

But this new piece that we have been invited to create and present at The Clemente is a play. There is a little music because it takes place in a gay nightclub, but it’s a play and a character study first and foremost. I’m excited to explore this side of being a performer. It’s less comfortable to me than singing, but it’s exciting to stretch this aspect of my performance art. We are really grateful to The Clemente for this opportunity.

Is your ego just too massive or is it that you like the control you have with one-man shows?

(He laughs) Honestly, I started to create my own work because there were no productions for me to be in. Coming to this country as an immigrant, having a heavy accent, not having an agent, not really knowing this system, not having a community, my way of being creative was writing music because that was something I could do on my own, by myself. I didn’t need to be cast in a role. It didn’t cost anything.  And I was able to hold on to my creative self by doing so.

When I first came to the United States, I went to Miami, and I lived there for 9 years. But there’s not really any theater there, and seriously, I just needed to work to survive. I did all the jobs you can imagine: I worked as a busboy, as a maid in a hotel, in shops.  And I did miss my life as a performer, but I had to eat. I wrote songs throughout that entire period, though, and have been lucky enough to start to do something with those songs more recently and especially in NY.  I feel really lucky to have a new chance at making art on stage.

What does it mean to be gay in America today and what is unique of the perspective specifically of a gay Latin man?

When I was growing up in Venezuela, I knew I was gay from a really early age, and I always felt uncomfortable because it was such a machista society. I explore this in my show Another Son of Venezuela, actually. My father once even screamed at me, “I would rather have a prostitute daughter than a gay son.”

But you know, I always dreamed that in the United States, the land of the free, everyone would be accepted: Gay, straight, black, white, and everything in between, but that’s just on the surface, right?  Tragedies like the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, the riot in Charlottesville, and the Vegas massacre, they show only too well how things are bubbling up in a terrible way. That makes me really sad, not just as a gay, Latin man, but as a human being.

What’s in your immediate future?

We are excited to get audience reaction to Welcome to La Misa, Baby and see where it takes us. We’ll be back at Joe’s Pub in March and April with So Close: Love & Hate, which we premiered last May. We’ve done some work on the piece and will be including a lot of new material in this iteration.

But right before that, in February and March, I am heading back to Russia as a cultural attaché on behalf of the U.S. Department of State for a tour with the country’s leading chamber orchestras. My band, The Immigrants and I did an incredible tour with the State Department two summers ago. It was so successful that they invited us back.

Find tickets for the Fearless series at http://www.clemente-fearless-series.eventbrite.com and more on Migguel Anggelo at http://www.migguelanggelo.com

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THE SEX FILES: Migguel Anggelo discusses his new one-man show Welcome to La Misa, Baby