Amherst Media extends well-deserved congratulations to Magdalena Gomez. Photo by Kayla Creamer

The following article, reported for the Valley Advocate, Thursday June 2nd 2011, by Chris Rohmann.
Stay Tuned - Amherst Media will be bringing you the footage from "Dancing in My Cockroach Killers."
StageStruck: Looking at Mortality - Magdalena Gomez wants to leave a legacy of lives touched.
This is a big year for playwright/poet/teacher/activist Magdalena Gomez, who has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors in the past few months.
For example: Teatro V!da, the Springfield-based youth theater company she founded, was named 2010 Outstanding Arts Collaborative in Theater by the advocacy organization Arts|Learning. The National Association of Latino Arts and Culture gave her a hefty grant to publish an anthology of writings on bullying, which will appear in the fall. Her papers and ephemera have been selected to be archived in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at UConn Storrs. And this Saturday, Teatro Pregones, New York's leading Latino theater, honors G?mez as a Master Artist with an evening devoted to excerpts from her plays and poems.
The UConn archive may have been on her mind when we spoke recently about this weekend's Pregones show. Without being coy (this is not a coy woman) she deflected praise for her personal accomplishments into reflections on her legacy.
"As much as I feel honored and grateful to receive them, especially from peers that I respect and care about, awards and honors have a short shelf life. They are meaningful, in that we all need encouragement, we all need to be seen and valued. But I look at my mortality, and what it is that will resonate and create beauty and justice in the world when I'm no longer here. Beyond the body of work that I've built, I want my legacy to be the lives that I've touched and what I can leave behind that endures."
The lives she's touched most immediately are the Springfield-area youth she mentors in the social-action theater ensemble Teatro V!da. She sees what she has created there as a living expression of her philosophy of education. "It's a way of approaching the creative self in others. It's a form of teaching that honors and values what the student brings, with an understanding that I am not providing a service for them, but we are providing something greater for the world together."
This is a topic on which Gomez waxes passionate. "I get very troubled," she explained, "when I hear paternalistic adults speaking about how they are 'serving' children and young people, when they look at young people as somehow in deficit, in need and 'at risk.' That is an underestimation of who they are as people, as thinkers, as artists, and it does a disservice to them. The words 'for' and 'with' have a lot of power. Do we work for people, or do we work with people?"
Still musing on her legacy, she said, "More than anything right now, I want to be able to replicate the model of what I've built in Teatro V!da. And before I die, I want to be able to train others to do what I do. I don't want my physical presence to be necessary for my work to continue. And if through these awards, people become more aware of my work and what I do, and that allows me to then leave my work in the hands of others who will carry it on, then the awards become more significant.
Dancing in My Cockroach Killers, an evening of poems and monologues by Magdalena Gomez, will be performed at Teatro Pregones, 575 Walton Ave., Bronx, N.Y., June 4, 8 p.m. For more info, visit