Marisela Barrera

Photo by Paul Escamilla

Marisela Barrera is a Tejana writer and teatrista. She has a BFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University and MA/MFA degrees in Creative Writing, Literature and Social Justice from Our Lady of the Lake University. Marisela writes short stories and turns them into transmedia performances. Her work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, HowlRound, San Antonio Report, Concho River Review, Latina Critical Feminism, Out in SA, Texas Matters, The San Antonio Current, Radio Esperanza 101.5 LP-FM, and TheaterJones, among others. She was Artistic Director of Cara Mia Theater, Theater Director at the Guadalupe, and has performed in Latino cultural centers in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. She has written, directed, and acted in 100+ projects and produced over 100+ cultural events. As an arts advocate, Barrera championed the return of individual artist grants from the City of San Antonio. She spins and eats fire with Jump-Start Performance Co., teaches writing at Northwest Vista College, and is a  Resident Actor with the Public Theater of San Antonio. Barrera has received artist awards from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, the Luminaria Artist Foundation, and the City of San Antonio.



Resume (PDF)


Artist Statement of Work

Tell us about your work (style, approach, philosophy, subject and/or theme):

I am a Tejana born from mixed status immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley. Schooled in Dallas, settled in San Antonio. I’ve never heard a cowboy say yee-haw. Never had a conversation with a daughter of the republic.

Growing up in the 80s on Crockett Street, Alamo, Texas, meant ruby red grapefruits and Grease Lightning. Somersaults under a flipping baton. Friday Goth in Reynosa. Big Bird sightings over the horizon and running through open fields arms flying wide open while a dust cropper sprayed pesticides like rain. My cultural roots are a continuous point of artistic inspiration.

As an actor, writer, director, educator, and activist/critic, I engage with the intersections of theater practice. My work resides in action, community building, and struggle.

I write short stories, profiles, and nonfiction essays and turn them into transmedia performances. My protagonists are mujer malas, women who rebel against cultural expectations, while at the same time embracing the duality of Tejana-Méx border life, and the complexity of female roles of mother, lover, and Virgen. They are urban legends, la Border Goth. All my characters are isolated and searching for a place of comfort, a place to call home, like me.

I linger on my personas for months, adapting them from short fiction to live public improvisational interactions, podcasts, performance videos, and ensemble plays. Character development is central to my acting and performance methods.

My first lover was acting. It took a plague for me to pursue acting again con fuerza. I crave the process of mounting a play. I crave the community-ensemble that develops through this process. Acting is a portal into ourselves while at once connecting to our community. I love working on new plays, especially when they are from underrepresented voices in American theater. I dig into the text for discoveries. What unifies my theater work is mindful teatro, a theater practice that engages cultural identity through community-building and activism. Teatro is the choque between real life and imagined possibilities. I contribute to the collective identity of San Antonio by engaging in teatro. 

Over the years, I have practiced various methods such as Viewpoints, Stanislavski Method, improv, Theater of the Oppressed, La Pocha Nostra, Teatro Campesino with additional movement and voice practices. I now mostly forget specific practices, listen to the room, and follow intuition. I trust my process and those of my collaborators. 

I am most alive when performing. I find territories of communion through performance by exploring my most vulnerable and honest self. My characters are hybrids of the people I encounter in life, the good and the bad. To practice theater is to study humanity by telling stories. We are nourished by our stories, the stories that matter to us, the stories that reflect who we are and what we want to become.

I submit this artistic statement with the hope of participating in the building of home for artists. I am here to learn, to build community, to make theater, to create a home.

Culturally Specific Art Category

Select Culturally Specific Art Category:: Latino/a Art



  • \"Mama\" from Tejana Rasquacha Written and Performed by Marisela Barrera during Quarantine 2020 Co-directed with Andrew Thornton Music by Jaime Ramirez Video by Elias Flores III July 2020

Contact information




  • Podcast and low-power radio show about Chicanas living and loving in Texas. First episode focuses on the US-Mexico border. Featuring Music by Photo by Taylor Valdez, courtesy of Cry Havoc Theater Company.

  • San Antonio\'s Legendary Donkey Lady shares some of her favorite voice mails from her Hotline. Plus commentary about Dia de Muertos in San Antonio.