Meet Manuel Aquiles Lopez Torres, artistic entrepreneur and just one of eight playwrights working on ATB’s new documentary theatre project This Place/Displaced, to give voice to stories of displacement, gentrification, and housing inequity in Boston.

We chatted with Mani to find out a little bit more about his play, Small Up Yuhself (Move Over), and what this project means to him.

Join us at Charlestown Working Theater August 17-25 to see Small Up Yuhself and seven more new plays!

What attracted you to this project?
I’m not a very political individual in the sense of activism and protest. However, I have many interests regarding politics like social justice. So opportunities that allow me to cross creativity and social justice, I don’t take for granted. It’s an honor to be a part of such a unique project.
Have you ever worked on a play based off of interviews before? What has this process been like for you?
This was the first play I worked on based off interviews with someone to tell their story. I found it personally challenging to navigate that space. I just kept thinking I have to do this story justice. This is especially true because [our community partners] will be reading and seeing it themselves. Something that helped me a lot was reminding myself that I’m making a painting, and not a photograph. I’m capturing an essence and telling a story with my interpretations versus making an exact replica capturing each detail.
How is writing for a rehearsal process different from writing in solitude?
Honestly, it’s been quite fun. I love the dynamics of collaboration that are tangible with this process. It has really made the experience one of growth [and it’s] exciting to see how you can easily be inspired by the energy brought by the team.
Your play is written partially in prose and partially in verse. Can you tell us more about that choice?
My community partner and I immediately connected to the idea of spoken word. Through this platform, we discussed how difficult issues and topics can be discussed in a beautiful, approachable manner, while giving stories so much of the life that the stories are drawn from. In this piece I used verse to emphasize the beauty in everyday life. I want the words and rhythm to create intimacy. The prose is kind of like systematically stale, to emphasize the organizational spaces we have to navigate in this world. I wanted to play with how entering organizational spaces can take so much from us and our lives.

Thanks Mani!

Manuel Aquiles Lopez Torres holds a dual degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) and Theater. Through BDIC, he designed an individualized concentration in “Artistic Entrepreneurship.” MORIR SOÑANDO (DIE DREAMING) is his first play that he began as a 10 minute play for a college dramturgy project. Through TC Squared Theatre Company’s PlayLab he developed it into a full length play, which was part of The Next Stage Festival of New Work in May 2018. He is an art hobbyist and enthusiast in many ways. Recently he was part of the costume team for CROSSING FLIGHT: a tale of the post-apocalypse by Erin Lerch, which debuted in January 2018 with TC Squared Theatre Company.

This Place/Displaced is performing at the Charlestown Working Theatre on at 8pm August 17, 18, 24, and 25. Tickets from $10. Join us to hear the stories of our eight amazing community partners from across the city of Boston. Plus, check out an exhibit of our community partners’ own artwork and writing in the lobby and pick up ATB’s original zine about the history and current climate of gentrification in Boston.