Arturo Luís Soria

Top by Wolford. Skirt by Terrence Zhou. Pants and shoes by Prada. Earrings, Soria's own.

Live from New York: Arturo Luís Soria

When Arturo Luís Soria took to the stage in August for the first preview of his one-person show Ni Mi Madre, his hoop earrings flying and his long white gown flowing, he became one of the pioneers of this season of rebirth. As the opener of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater’s fall slate, Soria’s play, an ecstatic and passionate character study of his effervescent Brazilian mother Bete, was one of the first Off Broadway shows to return with regular in-person performances, a responsibility the playwright and actor says he shouldered by triple-masking and avoiding large crowds during the run to prevent any cancelations. “For me as an artist to know that people are being moved by the show, that people are laughing, people are crying, that is a moving experience,” he says. “I feel blessed to be able to do this. It’s a gift that we get to do that, give that back to the community.”

Soria began working on what would become Ni Mi Madre, currently the only Latinx play planned for Off Broadway this season, over a decade ago as an undergraduate in a class on solo performance. He shifted focus to his mother’s perspective when he realized that “she’s way funnier than me,” he recalls. Through years of revisions, she served as both his most avid supporter and his most honest critic. “She’ll be like, ‘It’s not me, it’s a character,’ but then she’ll call me and give me five notes about the performance and about the play,” Soria laughs. “I’ll be like, ‘Mami, I thought this wasn’t you,’ and she’s like, ‘It’s not me, it’s a character, but if you want to be accurate to the character, this is how it would go.’”

As the show deepened on its course to a small West Village stage overflowing with candles, flowers, and bottles of wine, Soria says that the process has been at once cathartic and revelatory, allowing him to understand his mother and his extended family in a new light. “It was really an important lesson for me to learn that my mom wasn’t a superhero, nor was my dad, nor were my grandparents,” he explains. “They were people. It’s easy as a child to want to imagine your parents as this beacon of truth, and when you realize that they’re just people, it’s actually really humbling. As I’ve worked on this play, being able to find that humanity has allowed me to forgive and has allowed me to let go and has allowed me to appreciate and love deeper.”

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Hair by Tina Outen at Streeters. Makeup by Andrew Colvin at Streeters. Set design by Jacob Burstein at MHS Artists. Photographer's assistant: Kyrre Kristoffersen. Stylist's assistants: Maria Montane and Malén Denis. Hairstylist's assistant: Amesha Alston. Makeup artist's assistant: Crisdanil Hidalgo. Set designer's assistant: Casilda Garcia Lopez. Digital technician: Leslie Knott. Production by Heather Robbins at CLM.

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