Ellpetha Tsivicos + Camilo Quiroz-Vázquez

Grantee of Brooklyn Arts Fund

Project Profile: QUINCE

Ellpetha Tsivicos (Director/Co-Creator) and Camilo Quiroz-Vázquez (Writer/Co-Creator) of QUINCE as Selena and Father Joaquin in QUINCE, photo courtesy of Catharine Krebs

Brooklyn Arts Council announced in March 2022 an allocation of over $1.3 million to 238 Brooklyn-based artists and cultural organizations. This year marks the highest number of grantees and awardees as well as the largest amount of funding BAC has ever distributed. Art Spiel in collaboration with Brooklyn Arts Council features some artists who received a Brooklyn Arts Fund, Local Arts Support, and/or Creative Equations Fund grant in 2022.

QUINCE is an immersive quinceañera that follows the story of a young Chicana coming to terms with her queer identity, family and religion on the eve of her 15th birthday. Upon arriving at the venue, audiences were able to buy food from a local Mexican food truck to bring inside and enjoy during the show. The space was set up like a real quinceañera hall, painted pink from floor to ceiling with round banquet hall tables arranged with floral centerpieces and covered in Mexican snacks. The show dove into the complexities of immigrant and first-generation life, highlighted imagery inspired by Chicano culture and the duality of Catholic and Indigenous ancestry present in Mexican-American identity. The show was underscored by a live band that played throughout the show. QUINCE examines our traditions and how we can adapt those traditions to be more inclusive to ensure their survival.

Ellpetha Tsivicos and Camilo Quiroz-Vázquez are multi-disciplinary artists and co-founders of One Whale’s Tale. One Whale’s Tale is a production company that creates, fosters, and generates new independent content with an appreciation for magic and preservation of culture. Their company is committed to cultural representation and fair compensation. Ellpetha and Camilo have sustained a 14-year collaboration which began at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Drawing from their respective cultures Cypriot (Ellpetha) and Mexican (Camilo), the pair use music, myth, and personal family history to create work that highlights the immigrant and first generation experience. Their work has been co-produced with the TEAM, the cell theatre, the Brick, and the Bushwick Starr and developed through residencies at the SHED and BAM. Onewhalestale.com Instagram: @onewhalestale @ellpetha @camiloooo

Tell me about your project and how it fits within your overall practice.

The original workshop of QUINCE was done in August of 2020 and became the first live theatre to happen in New York during the Covid pandemic. A co-production with the TEAM as one of their Petri Projects, this workshop was performed fully masked for a socially distanced audience at the People’s Garden in Bushwick. That performance was a response to the immense need for joy and safe communal activity during an unprecedented time. The audience’s response and excitement for the work inspired us to keep developing the piece which eventually was invited to join the Bushwick Starr’s 2022 season. Through a series of outdoor cultural events, a Dia De los Muertos celebration with the Gowanus Dredgers, the Summer Arts Festival with Oye Group and the Bushwick Starr, and a fall block party celebration with the Bushwick Starr, we continued to explore how the QUINCE characters, music, food and overall aesthetics could exist outside of a traditional theatrical venue. Throughout this time we nurtured relationships with community groups and found ways to collaborate with their members in our projects and events.

QUINCE is more than a play to us, it is a community and an experience. The show is a dialogue and an invitation for artists and audiences who are often excluded or disinterested in the New York theatre scene. Our goal is to make work that is approachable to a variety of audiences. During our show audiences ate, had drinks, danced, talked back at the show (sometimes a little too loud), took pictures and videos, all things that would be shunned at most theatrical performances. We have to remember that so many of the rules we accept for how we interact with our audiences are based in Western European Anglo traditions and can feel alienating to a lot of people. QUINCE concluded with a one day event at Lincoln Center called QUINCE en la Plaza. This event took the elements of QUINCE, the characters, the music, the set pieces and spread them across Hearst Plaza accompanied by four bands and a dance group from unique Latin American traditions. It was very powerful to witness artists and audiences experience their cultural traditions in such a historic venue and has inspired us to continue promoting what we know to be true—that immigrant art is American art.

Sara Gutierrez, Saige Larmer in QUINCE
Sara Gutierrez as Cindy and Saige Larmer as Katie in the final resolution scene of QUINCE,photo courtesy of Maria Baranova


Instagram: @onewhalestale @ellpetha @camiloooo