I Won’t Love You If…
Story by Jose Rodriguez and Holly L. Jensen
Performed by Jose Rodriguez
Directed by Nancy Lucia Hoffman
If you drop out of school in 7th grade, how will you navigate a world where reputation is everything and simply staying alive is a challenge every day? How far would you go for acceptance and safety?
In this solo performance, Jose Rodriguez shares his personal journey from growing up on dangerous streets, to his years behind bars, and then his return to the same dangerous streets, this time working for peace.
I Won’t Love you If. . . will be performed at the Dean Hotel as a part of FRINGEPVD. Here, Holly Jensen talks about what she’s working on, and where she’ll have her victory meal.
What is your background in performance/art? What main projects are you working on?
I’ve been writing since I was young enough to smear anything on a wall and call it a word. Over the past 12 years I’ve focused mostly on playwriting because I love the collaborative and immersive nature of theatre. Right now, I’m working on a commissioned docudrama for The Wilbury Theatre Group with Ajay Benton that explores youth and violence in Rhode Island. Outside of the theatre world, I’m also working on a young adult novel about a ghost girl.
How did you come up with the idea for I won’t love you if… ?
I met Jose Rodriguez through The Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence, where he works as a victim services case manager. We decided to partner together to tell his story for the PVD Fringe Festival, but it will also be part of the larger docudrama for The Wilbury Theatre Group next year. Jose’s story is incredible. As a kid, he was in and out of the RI Training School 13 times. As an adult, he was in and out of the ACI 7 times. Yet, he’s managed to completely transform his life and he now teaches nonviolence to at-risk youth and connects victims of crime with critical services. Not only was Jose interested in sharing his story, he also wanted to perform as well. So we recruited Providence theatre artist Nancy Lucia Hoffman to direct the piece, since she has a passion for this type of story.
How do you think people will react to I won’t love you if… ? What do you hope it’ll draw the audience’s attention to?
Our hope is to inspire the audience in believing that change is possible. Too many people don’t understand the challenges that at-risk youth face in growing up on the streets. The path to nonviolence doesn’t happen overnight…it takes a lot of steps forward and a lot of steps backwards. But, it is possible. And, it’s our responsibility as a community to ensure that all of our members have equal access to the resources they need to be successful.
Where Indowncity will you go for your victory meal/drink/dessert?
Gosh, so many good choices…our first two shows are at Better Off on Broadway, so maybe we’ll hit Julians or Loie Fuller’s afterwards? Our final show is at The Dean, so maybe we’ll hit GPub or Wild Colonial.
What is your favorite memory of watching a performance?
“That Pretty Pretty or The Rape Play” by Sheila Callaghan performed by Brown/Trinity Consortium. Blew my mind.
What is your favorite memory of performing?
Ha, you won’t catch me on stage. Ever. 🙂