“Never thought I’d sign up to see a Zoom show twice. This is the closest I’ve felt to live theater since lockdown started.”
- Shaun Leisher, Emerge Theater Company
*FREE, weekly, live Zoom performances go to www.delejos.net*
Writer/actor/comedian Julie Piñero's partner, VR video game designer Jose Zambrano unexpectedly died in 2019. To begin to explore the landscape of her own grief, Piñero utilized his unfinished VR video game "Delejos,” a game about overcoming distance and loving from afar, and created Delejos (from afar), a one-woman immersive theatrical experience incorporating story, song, light, and a sprinkling of magical realism to guide the audience through an "at-home VR experience”.
Delejos (from afar) is presented over Zoom, using the medium to comment further on distance, and transforming what are typically the limitations and frustrations of the now-ubiquitous platform into a stunning commentary on the fragility of life by feeling like it could collapse at any moment. Delejos (from afar) further resonates in the time of COVID as people are denied a chance to mourn with loved ones and are themselves distanced.
Themes of Delejos (from afar):
Grief + Connection:
Delejos (from afar) takes the “magical” thinking and symbolic significance that fills people’s minds after losing a loved one and treats them as fact, building a whole universe with them. Too often people doubt those signs out of fear of losing grip, but what if we just believed them? Would this preserve the magic and provide hope in the face of loss? Grieving can feel like everything you knew about the world is thrown out the window - so why not create a new world? Piñero turns her grief into virtual reality, transforming the emotional landscape into a virtual one and leads the audience through it with the gusto of a game designer.
Through the unfinished virtual reality game named "Delejos", inspired by his own forced immigration from Venezuela, Zambrano planned to send players on a journey to connect with something they love - from afar. Piñero harnesses this goal of connection across distance to provide a path forward through grief, and takes the audience through a new virtual-emotional landscape using Zoom, a tool of isolation, to create a new reality that is vulnerable, intimate, and immersive.
Piñero explores the distance inherent to the identity of all Latinxs in the US including her own and Zambrano’s - whether it’s the distance from home, or the distance between cultures, communities and languages - this distance is a form of grief, and it’s built into who we are. The play is a call to action to explore this grief employing tools like latin baladas: songs where love comes from pain, and tiny regional words that carry with them a piece of home - like saperoco or tilín!
This piece explores the intersection of romantic love and creative partnership, and grieves for a love that was more future than past, more plans than memories. Delejos (from afar) is an attempt to write that future and let the audience meet and fall in love with Jose through Piñero’s eyes.
“Before this project, I would always doubt my own work. It’s why I’ve dabbled in so many mediums: too scared to hear my own voice within one, I jump to the next.” says Piñero. It’s a universal feeling - every artist has had “impostor syndrome” but it was not until she felt she was co-creating with a higher power that Piñero realized the piece was being “Written by Julie Piñero and Jose Zambrano”. Piñero weaves together stand-up comedy, live music and VR because those were mediums she and Zambrano were pursuing together. This show aims to fulfill the promise of that unfinished work.
Delejos (from afar) was written by Julie Piñero (and Jose Zambrano), performed by Julie Piñero, and produced by Caitlin Stone. A limited weekly run will begin March 4 and run through May 1.
ABOUT JULIE PIÑERO:
Jule Piñero is a performer and multimedia producer known best for producing podcasts like Common’s “Mind Power Mixtape” at Audible, documentary series “Crash the Party” at HuffPost and for performing standup and live music around Brooklyn. She was an on-camera correspondent for HuffPost, interviewing newsmakers like Lorena Bobbitt and Ilana Glazer. She was nominated for two Webby awards for producing the food travel series “Food/Groups” with James Beard Award winning host Dave Infante and “Really, Dough?!” with Lucali chef Marc Iocono, now streaming on Amazon Prime. She produced memoir-style podcasts for comedians Kate Willett (“Dirtbag Anthropology”) and Mo Welch (“Come Out, Come Out”): a project spotlighted at the iHeartRadio Awards. She’s a co-host of Stoked Comedy (with Kelly Bachman, Amber Rollo and Davidson Boswell) in Brooklyn and performed sketch comedy with Sofa Kingdom.
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