C. Raul Espinoza Q&A: Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month
By A Noise Within
October 14, 2021
C. Raul Espinoza (he/him/his) is a Theatrical Marketing Specialist with nearly 20 years of experience in the live entertainment industry and is the Community Engagement Liaison for A Noise Within’s 2021-2022 season. Learn about his journey from technology to theatre marketing and community bridge building in our Q&A!
How did you get started on your artistic journey?
I’ve always been passionate about theatre. After a career in the tech industry and professional development, I thought about where my passion was and what I really wanted to do. It was to make a living in theatre. I left Dallas in November 1999 with a commitment to make my living back home in the LA theatre scene. My life became absolute immersion in everything theatre for the next two years. I met a lot of key people, joined the LA Stage Alliance, volunteered with the Ovation Awards. A few years later, I got an opportunity as a marketing consultant for Luis Alfaro’s play Black Butterfly at the Taper reaching out to the Latinx community and found my calling. My work as a consultant at the Taper evolved into a staff position with Center Theatre Group doing targeted outreach and audience development. While working at CTG, I was also consulting on the side with other theatre companies. My agreement with CTG ended in 2009, but I’ve been consulting independently in LA and NY ever since.
How did you get to where you are now? What challenges did you face on the way?
The challenges I typically find are institutions who don’t have a genuine mission to build diversity, but rather a short-term goal to fill a theatre with the ethnic identity of the play. That’s a challenge as audiences could feel like they’re being used, since they’re not further engaged with or invited to anything else. I’m not saying these institutions are bad, but the idea of focusing on audience engagement seems like an afterthought. I’m not really building anything for them but moving traffic, butts-in-seats. I prefer to serve my clients in a way that makes a difference for them long-term.
As for personal challenge, since I have no interest in working for a single institution full-time, I sometimes face difficulty finding the next client to serve. Since I have been consulting for so long, however, I have built a solid network. Discovering that I don’t need to be confined to one place may even have been the challenge.
I have a deep belief on the impact art can have on people. The part of my work that gets me excited is being in the presence of others and learning about them before even saying, “Come to a show.” I enjoy people and getting to know their stories.
How did you find and end up at A Noise Within?
When Eric Pargac [Marketing Director of A Noise Within] approached me to work at ANW, I thought he was only asking about Anna in the Tropics. But Eric said that the ANW’s leadership are focusing on equity, diversity, and inclusion much more broadly. I was excited. I want to build those bridges for the institutions I work for, to generate new relationships with their audiences outside of just coming to a show. I asked Eric for the organization’s strategic plan so I could tailor my proposal around ANW’s needs. I work alongside the vision of your board and leadership; I am building on what you want to do. That’s exciting to me.
How did you meet Eric?
Furious Theatre. I was on the board for a short amount of time back in the early 2000’s. That’s how we first met. Then, we became beer buddies; we kept running into each other across the country. It’s extraordinary to see what he’s done and how he’s evolved.
How does your culture, family background, and history influence your work?
After my mother divorced my father, she came the US, remarried, and then had me come out here in 1968. I was a bit of a lonely experience—until I discovered art and music. We couldn’t afford to go to the theatre, but in 1975, my mother bought us tickets to see the first national tour of A Chorus Line. It was life-altering. The tickets were fifteen dollars, and that was a lot for my mom.
I was a theatre nerd all through school. My mother knew something was going on. She let me do community theatre at 10 years old, even when I would come back at 1 or 2AM. She’s always been supportive, even when she didn’t understand there was a career to be made out of this.
Out of all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
My ability to be present with people no matter the circumstance. Letting myself evolve in this business. Still having an intact reputation in this industry even after working for nearly 20 years.
One of my proudest moments was when the VP of Marketing at the Pantages Theater called me to work as a community liaison for the national In the Heights tour. I asked, “What do you need me to do?” I had an interview with Lin-Manuel’s dad, Luis Miranda. When I called him, we had an immediate camaraderie as we started speaking in Spanish. Fast forward, the musical was a great success, I created a welcoming committee, I stayed connected with Luis, and I began to truly understand what engagement looked like.
I later got invited to sit on an advisory committee at the Broadway League in New York. I felt overwhelmed because I was at a table with all these well-established theatre makers. On the same trip, I ran into a colleague from Center Theatre Group, and I got offered to work that summer for the Public Theatre. From Pantages to Public Theatre, I was present in the moment and allowed these life-altering opportunities to show up. And I think that’s what I’m most proud of.
I’m proud that I respect this business, my colleagues, the audiences. I have a profound admiration and respect for this domain and its people.
Who is your favorite Latinx author/playwright? Or alternatively, what’s your favorite Latinx play?
I love Luis Alfaro, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Nilo Cruz, and Octavio Solis. I love anything Quiara Alegría Hudes does. Those are just the playwrights I like! I love the Culture Clash boys. I’ve worked on 4 of their productions. The writer of VIDA on Starz – Tanya Saracho – is amazing. John Leguizamo, he’s another one whose projects I’ve worked on and truly admire. I can’t pin it down to just one person! I’ve worked with most of these folks in some capacity. I adore writers like Luis Alfaro who write from a different perspective, like the way he took the Greek trilogy and Chicano-ized it in Electricdad, Mojada, and Oedipus El Rey. I’m really in awe of that.