Good People of Playback (Rosa Mena)

This month we celebrate faithful Playback volunteer Rosa Mena...

How long have you lived in Memphis?

I am from Colombia and I have lived in Memphis for almost 12 years.

How long have you been a part of Playback Memphis?

I am not a direct part of Playback Memphis (actor) but I have been a volunteer for more than five years.

What/who inspired you to be an artist? Or What/Who inspired you to get involved with Playback? 

The feelings I experienced the first time I attended a public performance. I felt saved and included, as part of a big family that listen to each other during good or not so good times with love, respect and compassion.

What do your friends and family think about your love for Playback?

I do not have my family of blood in the USA, however, my family of choice and dear friends recognize my love and my passion for Playback.

How do you spend your free time?

I went back to school (graduate) so any time that I can be still, close to nature, doing yoga, walking or cooking a delicious meal with friends is very relaxing.

What is calling you to be brave these days?

When I wake up in the morning, I remind myself that I have only this day so I want to show up for life. Additionally, there are so many fun activities that regular kids learn when they are small; I did not have that opportunity. Months ago I took my inner child and invited her to learn how to ride a bike, and more recently I started climbing the wall at Mountain Box.

Where do you find joy in your life these days?

My dear friend, Gio, has a 15-old-month baby and it is a joy to play with her. I also find joy in nature; when I hear the choir at First Congo church; when I talk to my sister and niece in Colombia. and when I have the opportunity to volunteer.
What do you love about Memphis? 

I love the trees and the friendship I have cultivated here. I love that people want to thrive and help the city grow. I love that there are organizations like Playback, Peace & Justice or  Latino Memphis, to name a few, that love this city and are committed to work with the community. As Tom Shadyac recently said, “Memphis does not have the luxury of brushing aside issues of crime and poverty. That gives it a chance to reinvent itself.”
What are you most proud of in your life and work?

Of taking risks. I took the risk to come to USA as an adult without the language, extended family or friends. Later, I went to graduate school, it took a village and the love of my friends to make it. I am grateful and proud of my friends!
Why does Playback matter to you?

Art is one the most beautiful activities any human being could be involved in. Playback invites the Memphis community to get together share and listen in a safe environment. What I see when I attend or volunteer at a Memphis Matters public performance is a healthy and loving model of communication. The actors are present, they listen to, mirror and validate the story of the person who shares. What a gift!
Why should Playback matter to others?

Because it brings us together. It celebrates humanity. For example, when I see MPD officers on stage with people who have been incarcerated, working together, sharing and hugging, what I see is the practice of compassion.
What audience would you like to engage through Playback that Playback hasn’t yet?

The audience has been pretty diverse. However, I do not know if Playback has worked with parents or relatives/family with children with autism.
What’s your favorite Playback form- fluids, pairs, etc.? Why?

All Playback forms are wonderful and bring something different, however, I like pair’s. Most of the time we experience the contrast in our lives and pairs represent that just in front of our eyes.
Does one Playback performance stand out as profoundly affecting to you?

I am always touched by Playback performances. However, there is one that I remember the most: one was about a lady who was part of the civil rights movement in the 60’s, she was a driver and she shared her experience as an African American female, who used to make more money than other men in town. She was strong, positive and resilient.
If you had to pick one ensemble member or staffer to give your eulogy (to speak at your funeral), who would it be and why?

I will pick up Gio, she is like a sister for me and she is also from Latino America. She is passionate about social justice; she is a very strong woman.

Tennessee Arts Commission
Tennessee Arts Commission
First TN Foundation
Plough Foundation
Briggs Foundation
Assisi Foundation

Playback Memphis is proud to be supported by Arts Memphis, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the First Tennessee Foundation, the Plough Foundation, the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation, and the Assisi Foundation of Memphis
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