Lunch with Sonia will be a dance puppet theatre piece, inspired by Restrepo’s true-life experience with his Aunt Sonia, a woman who decided to end her life with dignity after a long illness at the age of 72. The show will use puppets, live actors, music, video, and physical theatre to deal with the themes of life, love, and loss.
Conversations about assisted dying bring up controversial and emotionally fraught issues: morality, religion, politics, and faith. With this piece, Loco7 hopes to acknowledge the incredible intimacy and the very personal nature of dying as the final event of living a self-actualized, individual human life and to move the dialogue from the philosophical arena to the realm of personal experience and stories related to the topic of Death with Dignity.
Created by Federico Restrepo & Denise Greber
Co-Directed by Federico Restrepo & Denise Greber
Choreographed by Federico Restrepo
Puppet, Light & Set Design by Federico Restrepo
Sound Design & Music by Leonie Bell
Costume Design by Becky Hubbert
State Manager: Emma Oppenheimer
Assistant Stage Manager: Adrienne Gomez
Assistant Light Design: Kathryn Wakeman
Featuring: Federico Restrepo
Ensemble: Marina Celander, Zulivet Díaz, Aaron Haskell, Hope Kroog, and Chris Rehmann
Voice of Sonia: Luz Beatriz Pizano
Performers in Video: Federico Restrepo, Carolina Restrepo, Esmeralda Pinzon, Natalia Schönwald, and Alberto Quiroga
Additional Voice Overs: Arturo, Solveji Lee
Research and Selected Written Material: Diana Jaramillo and Catalina Restrepo
Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company, founded by Colombian born artist, Federico Restrepo in 1985, develops and promotes creative productions of Dance, Theatre, Puppets, Visual Arts, and other forms of artistic expression. The company explores the junction of race, culture, history, and media in New York and throughout the global community. Loco7's cultural policies emphasize pluralism, dialogue, and cultural transformation. Loco7's artistic mission has been to develop the use of puppetry as an Instrument for the dancer, a style that incorporates dance and design. Utilizing original rhythmic music, live musicians, dancers, body puppets, and larger then life marionettes, the objective is to merge these various elements and weave a choreography which extends beyond the body of the dancer. The undertaking of the ensemble is to deal with themes such as South and Central American Culture and History, the Immigrants' experience, and New York City Urban Life.
Federico Restrepo (Co-Creator / Co-Director / Choreographer / Puppet and Light Design) was born in Bogotá, Colombia. His first professional theatre work was dancing with the Ballet National de Colombia in 1983. He came to New York in 1985 and studied at the Merce Cunningham School. Since 1985, he has developed a puppetry style which incorporates design and dance. He is the founder and artistic director of Loco7. His goal as a director has been to design the set and puppets as an extension of the dancer’s body. The spectacle is an ever-changing environment, transforming and moving throughout the space. His subject matter is very much the soul of Colombia mixed with his experiences of living in New York City. His intense love and passion for the history of the Americas and his journeys in New York are a constant source for all his work. He has premiered, designed, performed, and directed over 20 original pieces at La MaMa with subsequent tours throughout the world.
Denise Greber (Co-Creator and Co-Director) has been a member and managing director of Loco7 since 2001. She appeared in Loco7 productions: Urban Odyssey, In Retrospect, Room To Panic, Open Door, Bokan, The Bad Hearted, and 9 Windows. She is an artist in residence at La MaMa and is a member of La MaMa’s Great Jones Repertory Company, performing in Ellen Stewart’s productions and in Andrei Serban and Elizabeth Swados’ Fragments of a Greek Trilogy. Film: Charlie, Planet Earth: Dreams, The Cloud of Unknowing, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. She appeared in Bruno de Almeida’s digital short film series The Collection, in shorts titled "The Super," "The Super II," and "The Getaway Car," which can be seen on www.arcofilms.com. Her costume design credits include In Retrospect, Room to Panic, Open Door, Bokan, and The Bad Hearted, for which she was nominated Best Costume Design 2005 NY Innovative Theatre Awards. She is the director and curator of the La MaMa Puppet Series and the La MaMa Kids program.
Leonie Bell (Sound Composition and Design) is a German-American theater-maker and sound designer from Berlin, based in New York. Her pieces are bilingual, highly-physical, interdisciplinary landscapes with an absurdist hue, which center matriarchal lineages, imagine nature as a main character, and often endow the audience with more creative powers (where snacks are always served). Leonie also facilitates the performance project LOCAL GRANDMA, a free-form theater project devoted to rigorous play, communal care-taking, and causing a ruckus. LG's upcoming Sonntags wird Gelogen Or We Only Lie onSundays willpremiere at the Brick Theater in December 2021. Recent sound credits include: Phase One: The Underbrush (New Phase Collective), I Don’t Want to Interrupt You Guys (Mabou Mines), Sing, Goddess! (HERE Arts), Women Screaming (The Tank), Cracked (Theater at the 14th Street Y), An Easy Guide to Time Management (Dixon Place). Leonie also works as oneof the sound demons for shows at Target Margin Theater (dir. David Herskovits).Sound design Awards: La MaMa DesignFest 2020, Indie Shorts Awards Cannes 2021 (Phosphor). BA: Bard College, MFA: Sarah LawrenceCollege. http://leoniebell.org
Marina Celander (Ensemble) Marina received the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre's Red Socks Award 2014 for her contribution to Asian American theatre. In 2016 Marina was nominated for the Innovation In Performance Award for her solo show Mermaid's Howl at the Stockholm Fringe Festival. She was then invited to the Tony award-winning theatre LaMama ETC as part of their solo festival Series Of One 2018. Marina's solo show Shakespeare's Sisters was invited to perform at the Estrogenius Festival in NYC 2019. Tree She, a collaboration with Swedish composer Fredrik Söderberg, premiered at Estrogenius Festival 2020. Tree She was nominated for Best Movement Artist by the Young-Howze Theatre Awards. Marina's and Fredrik's continued collaboration, Sea She, premiered on The Six Foot Platform in Dumbo Sept 2021; a new form of residency on a small platform hosted by Brooklyn Arts Council and Dumbo BiD. As a hula student Marina has had the honor of studying with notable Kumu Hula (hula master teachers) for the last 20 years, and has then made it her mission to spread aloha and hula in New York City's public elementary schools. Marina Celander is so delighted to be performing with Loco7 at long last.
Zulivet Díaz (Ensemble / Translator) graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a BA in Theatre and continued her studies at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles. She relocated to NYC in 2015. Some of her favorite works on stage include: Yerma, The Taming Of The Shrew, An Enemy Of The People, The Laramie Project, Suddenly Last Summer and Trojan Women. New York credits include Four By Jack, The Adventures Of Seucy And Boto, Don Quixote Takes New York and 14 Little Red Huts.
Adrienne Gomez (Assistant Stage Manager) was born and raised in Southern California and has been in the theater since kindergarten. She attended California State University, Northridge where she majored in Theatre and minored in Philosophy. From 2012 to 2019, she wrote, acted, and produced sketch comedy in Los Angeles. Gomez is a founding member of Women Of Color Anonymous (WOCA), a sketch comedy team composed entirely of women of color writers and performers. WOCA enjoyed an eight-season residency at Upright Citizens Brigade Sunset. In May 2021 she received her Masters in Dramatic Writing at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Gomez is currently working with Loco7 Puppet Theater as Assistant Stage Manager on Lunch With Sonia. She lives in Brooklyn is now writing plays of her own.
Aaron Haskell (Sonia Puppeteer / Ensemble) started working with Loco7 as a dancer/puppeteer in 2004 with Bokan: The Bad Hearted (La MaMa NYC and Colombia- Iberoamericano Theatre Festival 2006) where he jump started his life as a puppeteer and puppet maker. Since then, he has toured extensively nationally and internationally with War Horse (Joey/Topthorn), Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk: First Flight (Spirit Puppeteer), as well as other productions. Some credits as a Creator and Director are: Wake Up, You’re Dead (2010 La MaMa), Me_irl: The Crow (2016 Horror Play Festival NYC). In addition, he is in development with two pieces: The Pact (St. Ann’s Warehouse Labapoluza, Dixon Place Puppet Block, international venues), and Dream Sequence 1: Find the Light (Workshopped at Dixon Place). He has worked as a puppet technician for Lion King Broadway, Acheson Walsh Studios NYC, as well as developing and creating puppets/ theatre spectacles for projects around the world. For more info please visit AaronHaskell.com. He is very excited and grateful to be back again with Loco7 developing and performing in Lunch with Sonia!
Becky Hubbert (Costume Design) designs and builds costumes for puppets, actors, and dancers in New York City, where she has lived and worked since 1998. Becky is honored to have costumed shows at La MaMa E.T.C., for various companies in different spaces. With Loco7, Becky has designed for Don Quixote Takes NewYork (2018-2019) and Undefined Fraction (2015). Other La MaMa highlights include Ravaged by Romance (2003), directed by Julie Atlas Muz; The Bad Hostess (2008), directed by Linda Simpson; The Etiquette of Death (2012),directed by Everett Quinton and Julie Atlas Muz; Horseplay: The Fickle Mistress (2014), directed by Elyse Singer for TheaterAskew, and The Expanded Unicorn Gratitude Mystery (2017), directed byKaren Finley. Collaborations in film and television include a wide range of commercial work, including a few films and tv shows. As a 829 union member Becky’s work schedule, like everyone, has been interrupted by COVID. She is so happy to be back in the theater after this crazy past year and a half and has enjoyed collaborating with everyone working on this production. She is thankful to La Mama and Loco7 for having her once again.
Chris Ignacio (Development Ensemble Nov. 2018-June 2021 and Final Song) is a Filipino-American theatre artist, musician, puppeteer, producer and educator. He has toured nationally and abroad since graduating from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Theater/Interdisciplinary Media from ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. He is a Culture Push Fellow for Utopian Practice, and Queens Council on the Arts: Community Engagement Commissioning grantee for his self-produced project Co-written, which involves collaborative songwriting with young people of color. Chris most recently served as Producer for the NYT Critic’s Pick TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever, at JACK, and previously as Associate Producer for the Ma-Yi Theater’s KPOP. As a performer, Chris often shares the stage with resident theatre artists and puppeteers at La MaMa such as Loco7, Watoku Ueno, Yara Arts Group, Jane Catherine Shaw and Theodora Skipitares — all of whom taught him what it means to be an artist.
Hope Kroog (Ensemble) is thrilled to be performing with Loco7 and sharing the stage with such a wonderful, creative, and generous group of performing artists. She also originated roles in Loco7’s The Adventures of Seucy and Boto Series and Undefined Fraction. Other credits include Lucky Tongue’s My Generation Show, as well as working with noted dance companies: Dance Visions NY, Sarah Berges Dance and Boulder Ballet.
Emma Oppenheimer (Stage Manager) is a New York City based multidisciplinary theatre artist with a strong connection to Lummi Island, Washington. Her passion for stage management and set design began at Sarah Lawrence College where she was a member of the production team for many shows including Elsewhere,The Blacker the Bärry, and Smart People. Her interest in the visual arts andSpanish led her to Cuba where she studied ceramics and metal sculpture at thenational art school InstitutoSuperior de Arte (ISA). Sheloves theatrical carpentry and has built scenery for Beau, Chicken & Biscuits, The DrewBarrymore Show, and Miami City Ballet.”
Beatriz Pizano (Voice of Sonia) is an award-winner actor/director and playwright. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Aluna Theatre in Canada, a company recognized for its unique approach to creation, its daring political work, and its experimentation with multi-language productions. She has received a number of prestigious awards including the John Hirsch Prize, the Chalmers Fellowship, the K.M. Hunter award and numerous Dora awards and nominations as playwright and director. She is the first Latinx actress to win a Toronto Critics award and a Dora for her performance in Blood Wedding. As a playwright she has participated numerous times at the Banff Centre for the Arts Playwright’s Lab and in 2019 she was invited back as the senior playwright in residency. That year Beatriz was also named one of TD’s 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians. Most recently Beatriz has appeared in the acclaimed productions of Alien Creature (TPM), Dividing Lines (Aluna Theatre), and Four Sisters (Paradigm Productions/Luminato Festival). She will soon appear as Bernarda Alba in a co-production between Aluna and Modern Times Stage Company.
Chris Rehmann (Ensemble) Chris is performer based in New York City & Brooklyn. Chris has performed and presented work at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Mabou Mines / P.S. 122, The P.I.T., The Wild Project, The Martha Graham Studio Theatre, Dixon Place, Pig Iron (Phil.), Daniel's Spectrum (Toron.), House of Yes, and more. Chris has also appeared in several films including Todd Verow / Bangor Films' Goodbye Seventies, which played festivals internationally and streams online (Aritizical, Apple TV). NYU:TSOA (Experimental Theatre Wing) 2013. Instagram: @theotp___
Generously supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, New York State Council on the Arts, NYSCA Restart NY: Rapid Live Performance Grant, A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theatres, Leon Levy Foundation COVID Relief Fund, administered by A.R.T./New York, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Cheryl Henson and The Jim Henson Foundation, and Individual Donors.
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
The Eugene O’Neill Arts Center
Mona Maria Damian Ulmu
Emily Vick Agnew
Much Gratitude To
The entire company for your dedication to this project.
The Jaramillo, Correa, Restrepo Family for supporting us.
We dedicate this to Sonia Jaramillo (1940-2012) for inspiring us to tell this part of her story.
Photo by Richard Termine
La MaMa Puppet Festival
The La MaMa Puppet Festival showcases new contemporary puppet theatre by artists from around the world. Curated by Denise Greber, focusing on diversifying the voices, stories, and perspectives shared onstage, with the goal of uplifting marginalized identities within the puppet community.