Happy Birthday Frida!

Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s greatest artists, was born on July 6, 1907, but claimed that she was born three years later so that people would associate her with the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Our suggestion for Frida’s Birthday Cake: Mexican Cinnamon-Swirl Bundt Cake with Chili-Ganache Frosting

The Core Ensemble first produced its chamber music theater show “Tres Vidas” in 2001.  Based on the lives of three legendary Latin American Women (Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya and Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni), for nearly 20 years the show has been seen in hundreds of venues around the United States and the United Kingdom. We offer special thanks to script writer Marjorie Agosin and the wonderful actresses who have worked with us: Georgina Corbo, Karina Barros, Desiree Rodriguez, Roseanne Almanzar, Denise Estrada, Cristina Obando, Rosa Rodriguez, Francisca Munoz, and Jenyvette Vega.

Tres Vidas with Georgina Corbo as Frida Kahlo
Marjorie Agosin

Frida Kahlo left us a joyful legacy through her paintings that celebrated the colorful Mexican culture that she loved while fearlessly exploring gender, class, race and identity.  

Frida Kahlo’s style was iconic: her famous unibrow shows a rebelliousness in an era when such a thing might have been plucked into submission. Frida adopted a traditional style of Tehuana dress: full skirts, embroidered blouses and a regal coiffure, accented with the flowers of Mexico: gardenias, dahlias, and bougainvillea. 

Frida Kahlo was rumored to have had numerous affairs with both men and women – the list is impressive: Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky, Japanese sculptor Isamo Noguchi, actress Dolores Del Rio, Hungarian American photographer Nicolas Muray, artist Georgia O’Keefe, Mexican chanteuse Chavela Vargas – but the greatest of all her loves was Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera, whom she married not once, but twice! In this video clip from the Core Ensemble show “Los Valientes”, hear Paulo Quiros as Diego talk about his passionate relationship with Frida.

Your support of music theatre that celebrates diversity is more important than ever. Core Ensemble programs would not exist without the help of our donors! Please consider a contribution today to sustain our virtual library of shows illuminating social justice and to ensure that we may resume live performances when it is safe to do so.

The Core Ensemble at Home in South Florida

Lake Worth, Florida, home 2sometimes known as “the Greenwich Village of South Florida”, is home base for the Core Ensemble.  Our community’s abundant interest in the arts is one of the reasons we love being here, and the glorious weather is the frosting on the cake! The Core Ensemble has received the designation “Artists in Residence” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, an inclusive Christian community (www.standrewslw.net). Our five-event 2015-16  free series at St. Andrew’s  (100 N. Palmway, Lake Worth, FL 33460 includes:

  • October 25th 4 pm – “Harvest of Voices-Cuentos de los Campos”
  • January 17th 4 pm – A Musical and Theatrical Tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer
  • (in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act)
  • January 19th 7 pm – “Of Ebony Embers-Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance”
  • January 20th 2 pm – Beethoven/Brahms Recital by Core Ensemble pianist Hugh Hinton
  • March 6th 4 pm – “Frida Kahlo Lives!” in celebration of Women’s History Month

For  more information about the series at St. Andrew’s call 561-582-6609.

home 1In addition, community outreach programs bring us to farm worker communities around Palm Beach County for performances of “Harvest of Voices” in English and Spanish. Educational programs celebrating diversity and social justice will bring us to schools and afterschool programs in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. All of this is made possible by the Broward Student Enrichment Trust Fund, the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs (www.florida-arts.org) and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County (www.palmbeachculture.com).

home 3Our local collaborators include the Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach (www.farmworkercouncil.org), the Broward County School Board, the City of Lake Worth Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee, and the Lake Worth Interfaith Network (www.lwinterfaith.net).

Oscar Romero – One of Los Valientes

Oscar Romero

Archbishop Romero

Earlier this year, the Vatican announced that Oscar Romero is now recognized as a martyr slain for his faith. The path to Romero’s possible canonization is now open. Archbishop Romero is one of ten twentieth-century martyrs honored with a statue in Westminster Abbey; he is also represented by a bust in Washington National Cathedral.


Kevin Melendez with Romero Family in Houston, TX.

The Core Ensemble celebrates Archbishop Romero every year during Hispanic Heritage Month (September and October) with performances of Los Valientes. Relatives of Archbishop Romero attended a recent performance of Los Valientes in Houston, pictured here with actor Kevin Melendez who portrayed the martyr. A very young Romero relative hides behind the grownups.

Los Valientes (The Courageous Ones) is a live music theatre work for singing actor and onstage trio of cello, piano and percussion. Based on the lives of three heroic Latinos, the show celebrates Mexican painter Diego Rivera, martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, and Mexican-American outlaw Joaquin Murrieta – some say the Zorro character was based on this historical figure. You can find more information here: https://www.coreensemble.com/shows-on-tour/los-valientes – Or contact Margot for detail – margot@coreensemble.com.


End of the Season & Landmark Performance!

On Monday evening March 30, the Core Ensemble finished the spring tour with a performance of Tres Vidas in Billings, MT. This landmark performance completed our cycle of performing in all 50 of the United States!

A post-performance supper at a local brew pub ended the season on a savory note:

“Tres Vidas” Cast at the Brew Pub

“Tres Vidas” Cast at the Brew Pub

Leaving Montana with some Lakota wisdom from Little Big Horn:

Lakota Wisdom

Thanks to all who performed, hosted, applauded, and appreciated our work!


Today is Frida Kahlo’s Birthday!


Frida-KahloThe Core Ensemble is celebrating Frida today – we love her vibrant colors, her potent symbolism, her rich interpretations of Mexican culture! Here’s my favorite quote from Frida – have you ever felt this way?:

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

One year ago today I invented a birthday cake for Frida. The goal was to use the flavors of Mexico that Frida loved. It turned out to be a Cinnamon-Swirl Bundt Cake with a Chili-Chocolate Ganache Frosting. It got the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from my friends Steve Arterburn and Patricia Masterman. Here’s how it looked:

Frida's Cake

Frida’s actual birthday was July 6th, but she always gave her birth date as July 7th, to coincide with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.

The Core Ensemble celebrates Frida every year in Hispanic Heritage Month in our touring show “Tres Vidas”: https://www.coreensemble.com/shows-on-tour/tres-vidas/  This fall “Tres Vidas” will travel to California, Oregon, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee!

Alfonsina Storni, Legendary Argentine Poet, was born on this day in 1892!

AlfonsinaAlfonsina Storni was born on May 29, 1892.  She is considered to be one of the most important Argentine and Latin American poets of the modernist period.  Much of her work focuses on the repression of women.  She died in Buenos Aires on October 25, 1938. TheCore Ensemble celebrates Alfonsina in our touring show “Tres Vidas” (Three Lives): https://www.coreensemble.com/shows-on-tour/tres-vidas/

Alfonsina was an habitué of the famed Café Tortoni, a haunt of artists and writers. Perhaps she nibbled on Alfajores while enjoying the earthy and dramatic music of the tangueros.  Here’s a recipe for Alfajores that I tried: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ingrid-hoffmann/dulce-de-leche-cookie-sandwiches-alfajor-recipe.html


Always one to gild the lily, I took half the batch and dipped them in dark chocolate – to my mind, an upgrade on an already-sensational item!


Margot’s World: Today is the Birthday of Renowned African American Visual Artist Aaron Douglas!




African American painter Aaron Douglas was born on this day in 1899 in Topeka, Kansas.  He moved to Harlem in 1925 and began producing illustrations for magazines associated with the Harlem Renaissance.  He was considered “The Father of African American Art”, but that title led him to say, “Do not call me the Father of African American Art, for I am just a son of Africa, and paint for what inspires me.” He founded the Art Department at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he taught for twenty-seven years.  Douglas died February 3, 1979. The Core Ensemble celebrates this great artist in its touring musical theatre piece, “Of Ebony Embers-Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance”: https://www.coreensemble.com/shows-on-tour/of-ebony-embers/ Aaron art

Celebrating Our Roster of Amazing Artists

The Core Ensemble’s touring season ended this week with two performances in St. Louis, MO. In addition to touring our repertoire shows (Los Valientes, Tres Vidas, Of Ebony Embers, and Ain’t I a Woman!), we premiered a new music theatre piece, “Harvest of Voices”, a collaboration with the Farmworker Coordinating Council of the Palm Beaches. Did the season have its challenges? Yes, definitely – in the form of appalling weather around the U.S. that resulted in costly venue cancellations. Is global warming affecting our business? Absolutely! But Mother Nature notwithstanding, it was a GREAT year. Over the past months, what stands out more than anything are the wonderful Core Ensemble artists. It was our best season ever for amazing collegiality and fruitful artistic collaboration! Applause! Applause!


It’s Shrove Tuesday – or Mardi Gras! Preparing for the season of Lent, this is the day when Christians scour their kitchens for eggs, fat, milk, and butter, using up all the yummy ingredients that might be turned into something delicious and non-penitential. Pancakes, for instance! Thinking about Mardi Gras puts me in mind of Zora Neale Hurston’s time in New Orleans and the amazing anthropological research she did there. In Zora’s biography, Robert E. Hemenway describes “the unique context of Zora Neale Hurston’s fieldwork… the pressures were both racial and sexual. She was a pioneering role model as a woman who rejected sexual roles, traveling with only a handgun, a two-dollar dress, a suitcase full of courage through some of the roughest and remotest parts of the rural south”. Imagine being a single, black, educated woman in the late 1920’s exploring Vodou (or “Hoodoo”) in the Deep South! Zora published two works on New Orleans Vodou: Mules and Men and Hoodoo in America. Zora’s field work was significant to African American religious history; she explored the deep knowledge of the ancestors, transformative healing rituals and the ancient wisdom of her people.

Christy Hall as Zora Neale Hurston

Christy Hall as Zora Neale Hurston

As for me, I will make a King Cake (traditional today in New Orleans) and eat Pancakes.

King Cake

King Cake


Audiences LOVE new Ain’t I a Woman! show


The Core Ensemble continues its busy Black History Month touring with TWO shows on the road simultaneously: “Of Ebony Embers-Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance” and a new duo version of “Ain’t I a Woman!” for actress and piano. This new version of a perennial favorite is perfect for small venues. Actress Christy Hall loves performing this very intimate show and audiences are LOVING her!
Christy - NEW

Byron Sean is her supporting artist, bringing his own dramatic flair to some great piano repertoire.
Byron - piano

I can’t help bragging by sharing what people are saying about them:

It was such a pleasure having Christy and Byon perform…the duo worked really well for our intimate theatre…Christy was able to connect very directly – it was a wonderful evening! – Jeri Suarez, Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement, Hollins University, VA

It was something you don’t see every day…this was fantastic, with the music, interludes and character changes! – Alva Cellini, Director of Women’s Studies, St. Bonaventure University, NY.

I thought the two performers were fabulous! Lisa Wilson, Office of Inclusive Excellence, Mary Baldwin College, VA

BRAVO!!! – to two amazing artists!