Choreographer Lorin Latarro discusses The Ghostlight Project, how theatre can create hope and change

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by Alicia Ramirez

With 14 Broadway credits to her name, Lorin Latarro has danced in A Chorus Line, Movin’ Out, Fosse, and choreographed the Tony-nominated Waitress. But one of her most remarkable role to date – fervent activist – isn’t included in her Playbill biography.

Latarro founded Art=AMMO after the Newtown shooting to advocate for gun control through movement. She has joined The Ghostlight Project to ensure theaters across the country become brave spaces in this political climate. Latarro will be with a group representing The Ghostlight Project tomorrow, January 19, at 5:30 pm. The public is welcome and encouraged to bring a light – flashlight, candle, etc. – as that will be an important part of the rally.

The Broadway dancer-turned-choreographer caught up with Stage Door Dish days before The Ghostlight Project’s initiation ceremony on January 19th. She discussed her upcoming project, a musical version of Monsoon Wedding, and how the election results have motivated her to find new ways to address women’s issues.    

You founded Art=AMMO, an organization that strives to change the minds of people indifferent or against gun control through movement. Was there an identification that drew you to gun control?

 After Newtown, I felt the desire to do something to honor the children lost.  I am interested in politics and was disgusted by the response of the NRA and some Republicans to use the horrific event as an excuse to make guns even more easily available. I wanted to do something to cut through the arguing…something visceral and visual instead. 

 Were you brought up going to rallies? 

Nope. Not at all. In fact, my parents were young adults during McCarthyism, so they worry about me being so vocal… another reminder that America’s democracy is a verb that needs be protected. 

How has your work with Art=AMMO informed your work with The Ghostlight Project?

I rallied the Broadway community once before, so I know how willing and eager our community of artists is to use their voices and creativity to make a statement. It is a group of strong people willing to donate time and creativity for causes they believe in. 

The Ghostlight Project’s action statement says that one should become an expert on “a topic, state, or key issue vulnerable in the next six months.” What topic do you hope to become an expert on other than gun control? How do you see it influencing the way you approach choreographing or directing?

I woke up the morning after the election, more aware than before, of the difficulties women in leadership positions face. I am interested in all human relationships, and very curious about how to take on women’s issues in 2017 to propel us forward. I mean… internationally- I am in India right now and the women here are also fighting! How can I make these stories creative and interesting and inspiring and universal?

What was the first organization that had a major impact on you and why?

Planned Parenthood. When I had no insurance after shifting from dancing on Broadway to choreographing, PP gave me a free pap smear and a general OBGYN health check-up. 

Moving forward, what do you strive for in your upcoming projects?

Humanity and being brave enough to tell the truth. I am interested in stories that reveal things and put dirty laundry on the table. I also believe dance, being agnostic in its language, helps bring people together. 

What aspects of our culture inspire you the most?

The idea that democracy is messy… the forward road is curvy… the idea that we are still moving in the right direction wholly even there will be road blocks the next four years to try to slow progress down, is inspiring. I also love stories of the underdog. I am watching all of Mira Nair’s movies prepping for my next project of a musical version of Monsoon Wedding and her stories of people against all odds succeeding continues to be inspiring. 

How does art contribute to becoming citizens of the world to those it touches?

Art creates empathy and gives the viewer the experience of walking in another shoes without leaving their seat. 

You made history as a member of the all-female creative team of Waitress. How can the theatre community improve gender equality? 

It is slowly happening. Giving us the opportunity to write and create will open a world of stories for new audiences. It is good for everyone.  

The Ghostlight Project aims for organizations to create a “brave space. ” Why a brave space and not a safe space?

Theatre should be brave… it is a safe place for an artist to be brave enough to speak the truth. Angels In America is a perfect example of brave theater. 

How do your political ideologies affect your views on the theatre community?

I am really glad I am surrounded by open-minded people.  I will continue to have discourse with people who oppose my views, but it is comforting to see so many of my friends fight for their rights for equality and women’s freedom of choice. You know, a lot of actors are on Obamacare, so we have a vested interest as a community on making sure it doesn’t get dismantled. 

You choreographed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater at Encores Off-Center, a show that seems more relevant than ever, before the election. Why is this show important to you?

Rosewater is a beautiful show! The musical reveals the perceived absurdity of being generous and empathetic to those who need it most. The show is about a small forgotten town in the middle of the USA, full of people who are down and out. The soundtrack is being recorded! The songs feel like they’ve been written today. It is a reminder how important it is to take care of each other. 

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

A lot of incredible artists have been donating their time and talent to making The Ghostlight Project successful. We have been working via email and making posters and calls at all hours of the day while working on other shows. I hope everyone will go to THEGHOSTLIGHTPROJECT.COM for more info to find a theatre across America or here in Times Square and join us on January 19!

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