Frees Herself with Art, Community and Big Hopes
By Robert Waddell
In 2002, Bronx actress Tania Ochoteco was taking classes at the Raul Julia Training Unit of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre and working with dramatists.
Today, she works for a Bronx politician, but she is not all about politics. She is still an artist at heart who is pursuing her love for acting and writing.
“I have gained more experience and joined a company," she said about her acting. "I’m a member of the Puerto Rican Intercultural Drama Ensemble, the Pride Theatre Company and I’ve had the opportunity to work with Frank Perez, Eugene Rodriguez, Rene Valentin, Lou Torres.”
She studied with the late artist Raul Davila and did a staged reading of Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri’s play “Come in We’re Closed.”
Serving her community in the Bronx is important to her. She’s currently deputy director for Council Member Annabelle Palma of the Bronx.
“It’s a great j-o-b because it’s in my community, the Bronx," she said. "I’m able to do something in a direct or indirect way that’s helping the community, so I’m happy about that."
She enjoys the flexibility this job gives her as she acts and writes.
“It’s been really good, but the results are only as good as the effort,” she said. “I’m happy with where I am so far, for the experience I’ve gained and for what I have to look forward to.”
Ochoteco considers herself an up and coming artist who is still paying her dues.
“She’s a wonderful actress,” said actor and playwright Eugene Rodriguez. “And as a person in the community, her heart is in the right place. She knows her lines and takes direction well.”
In a performance of Rodriguez’s “San Juan Shakespeare Company,” Ochoteco played Cindy who is a new actress that wants to perform with established actors. Ochoteco said she could relate to this character.
In addition to acting, Ochotecto said she is also learning the art of playwriting. She wants to write about her experiences in a memoir entitled “Memoirs of a Wifey.”
“This project involves a plethora of issues,” she said. “It involves immigration, deportation. It’s a very intimate piece of work. It brings me back to a difficult and interesting time in my early 20s…I’m so excited about it. Just when I think I don’t have any more energy, I start writing, and I’m filled with adrenaline. The next thing you know it’s 3 a.m. and I have to get up at 7 for work. I’ve been tired, but it’s good tired. I’ve been productive.”
The term “wifey” refers to a woman who lives with a man without being legally married. “It’s an urban term for shacking up,” she said. “A lot of people can relate…marriage is slowly diminishing. There's a lot of women who have their partners and their children and that’s what it is.”
She described her six-year experience as life changing.
Out of a love story comes the intimate experience when one is left alone, she said. There are no divorces or alimony.
“There’s redemption in this story,” she said. “There are experiences in life that mark you for a long time.”
Ochoteco said the story is about freeing herself from a difficult situation and gaining redemption.
“In the next five years,” Ochoteco said, “I hope to have a lot more productions under my belt; I hope to be doing film; and I hope to be part of a movement that is putting our efforts to open more spaces for artists to put up their work.”
Robert Waddell is a Bronx-based freelance writer who contributes his writings to Puerto Rico Sun.