Tanaquil Márquez makes luminous, bilingual theater with 1812 Productions

Tanaquil Márquez
Justin Jain and Tanaquil Márquez in ‘This is the Week That Is’.
Mark Garvin

The Philadelphia theater scene is a better place for having Tanaquil Márquez at its heart.

With an impressive career that includes working as resident theatre artist at coLAB Arts, co-artistic producing director at Teatro del Sol, co-founder of La Fábrica’s New Work Bilingual Playwriting series, and a directing, acting and writing part of 1812 Productions’ holiday sketch satire, ‘This is the Week That Is’, Márquez has done it all. That is especially poignant when you consider that her own, emotional works – directing and writing – are executed in both English and in Spanish.

Márquez knows that Philly has a rich, recent history of making original bilingual theater along with her own work. “It is definitely on the rise,” she says of Spanish-speaking theater. “I just produced a bilingual ‘Twelfth Night’ for Delaware Shakespeare – a bilingual, activist, musical ‘Twelfth Night’, that is. There are many collaborations within the Latinx theater community in Philadelphia. Elaina Ortiz, from Powerstreet Theater Co. has been doing theater in this city and other states. Companies such as InterACT, Theatre Exile and Azuka are working on Latin shows.”

Márquez’s Teatro del Sol – which stayed quiet during the pandemic – makes its return, in 2023 through Azuka with playwright AZ Espinoza’s ‘All My Mothers Dream in Spanish’, directed by José Avilés.

“My journey so far—doing bilingual theater is how I grew up… that was my household. Seeing that not represented in the outside world, those were the stories I wanted to see, hear, make, and be a part of.”

The cast of ‘This Is The Week That Is’.Mark Garvin

At her start, Marquez worked with theaters such as the Wilma Theatre, Peoples Light, and Theatre Horizon in translating their plays into bilingually-told dramas and other Latinx consulting work.

“Being open, opening all doors to all community members: you have to re-think how you make theater. I’ve been happy to be a part of that conversation, part of that building process. That is how my name got around.”

Starting off as an actor at 1812 Productions, Márquez evolved into many roles — marketing assistant, teaching artist, education director and now, directing the news-based satirical comedy ‘This is The Week That Is’. Next season, in February 2023, Márquez will also curate a bilingual theater piece of her own through 1812, the company’s first Spanish-speaking show.

“I think I’ve helped 1812 move forward through change by being another voice at the table – a bilingual voice, a Latinx voice, a Latina voice,” she says. “Bringing my perspectives, in conversation and administratively and creatively, it has been a joy to be able to do all that within one company, and see the growth in 1812 on both sides.”

Pictured are Jennifer Childs and Tanaquil Márquez.Mark Garvin

‘This is the Week That Is’ will be on stage at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, throughout the month of December. It’s Philadelphia’s own ‘Saturday Night Live‘ with a sprinkle of ‘The Daily Show’. 

“We’re always throwing spaghetti at the wall, and seeing what happens – being goofy and dumb and embracing that wholeheartedly. Our satire will be holiday-themed. Oprah will make an appearance. Pax Ressler, our music director, has composed such gorgeous music and rich harmonies. There will be songs of Christmas cheer, pop culture and smear campaigns.”

As for Márquez’s motto, both personal and professional, it is simple, but strong — “Always evolve,” she says. “Everything is theater, from the clothes that you put on to the lighting that you set in your room to the soundtrack of your days – everything can be theater.”