Regie Cabico Transcript, Part 2

Elizabeth: This is part two of our conversation with poet, performer, and storyteller Regie Cabico. In this episode, Regie discusses the thrill of engaging an audience authentically, not as a character, but as a person and an activist. A remarkable community of fellow artists emerges from that experience and, within it, a spirit of collaboration and creativity.

A quick note to listeners: On each episode of our Theatre in Community series, we include a glossary of theatre terms and names referenced in the interview.

Elizabeth: Speaking of your, kind of, political sensibility, Regie, you are really, truly a national figure, both as a spoken word poet and performer and as an activist. In fact, kind of leaping ahead to your move to DC, we discovered not too long ago that you are one of maybe two or three contemporary DC activists who are profiled in an exhibit on civil rights history-makers in DC that’s on display at the beautifully newly renovated MLK DC public library downtown. So, can you give our listeners a bit of timeline about your activism? As an out and proud gay Filipino man, an artist, and an activist?

Regie: I think if you’re going to be a poet, you are an activist. You are giving a public service, and you are there to make people feel better. You are there to give them truth. Being a poet is, it’s a religious experience, it’s a spiritual experience. ‘Cause if you’re not writing the poem to heal or to save lives or—you’re giving people wisdom, you are naming a pain, and you’re a visible hope for Filipino kids and grown-ups who don’t hear about the experience. And so I feel that’s part of it. You can’t not think of yourself as an activist because the words are there to serve. And if you’re not there to serve or to help or even just to entertain, like it doesn’t have to be intense, but if that’s not why you do it then, you know, what is the point? And that’s how I feel. And so, being an activist means that I am also a teacher. And I also feel that teachers are activists because you’re giving power to other voices. And I love hosting open mics. I think giving other people the platform to speak is a form of activism. And creating a safe space is a form of activism. And so, it’s, it just goes hand in hand.

Michael: After jumping into the sort of, the Fringe experience, because you’ve performed at Fringe, I have performed at it, Elizabeth, we’ve all performed at Fringe festivals. And I remember meeting you, I think it was meeting you again after the 40 years ago. It was 2007 or something. I think we were doing The Fate of a Cockroach, anyway, or something like that. But we, as you were performing at the Fringe, I believe, in that year as well. Can you remind us of when you first began performing at the Fringe and maybe some of the shows you did?

Regie: I’ve done a lot of Fringe theater work. The Seattle Fringe, I did New York Fringe, Philly Fringe. Some of them were solo plays, some of them were collaborative with other Asian theater artists. You really cut your teeth in Fringe, right? I would say the most successful solo show is the one that I did—was it 2013 when we both had a show at Fringe here in DC?

Michael: Oh, I think 2013, right?

Regie: Yeah that was a great year.

Michael: Because I, you were asked to perform it after the festival was over, right?

Regie: Constructing a solo show, I feel like I overthought it many times as to what I think my solo show should be. And I think when I did the show in 2013, I didn’t think about it anymore. I didn’t—let’s just slap this poem together. And really quickly did it. And I was really happy with the results. And I think that that was my most successful show. And maybe I owe it to Fringe for giving me that opportunity to put it out there and let me be me. But I also had a great director. I think Matt Ripa was very helpful and very supportive. And he was a queer director and he was great.

So, it’s not just Fringe, it’s also doing theater wherever I can, if it’s a coffee house, a black box, the basement of a bar. So, in that way, while I would never be in the traditional theater, I find theater in the back doors, in the basements. I think that there’s theater in the classroom. There’s so many ways to think of theater that doesn’t have to be where you’re at the mercy of just a lot of bullshit, right?

Elizabeth: To elaborate on that a little bit Regie, DC, as I’m sure, is often characterized as being very different from New York. The federal city, DC is a federal city, has a reputation for being very buttoned down, very staid, very conventional, but you, Regie, are anything but staid and buttoned down and conventional. Can you talk a little bit about what the audience response was like to your early Fringe shows?

Regie: Wow. They were well received. I would say, look, I am a queer poet. I’m a queer brown poet. I am confident I know what I bring. People are going to be afraid of a queer person, a brown person. And so, I thought that I wrote out and I explained who I am—but I feel like even today, I feel like in the banning of books in schools and as an educator that goes into schools, people look me up and they say, Oh, I don’t think we want Regie at our elementary school. I don’t think he’s the right teacher for us. While I’m in a theatrical world, you have to be open, but it’s when I’m not in the theater and when I’m in schools or other venues that people, you experience queerphobia. It’s a real thing. I used to hear in the spoken word open mics, a little bit of transphobia and queerphobia at a Bus Mics, Busboys and Poets open mic. I think it’s changed luckily, but when I came back in, in the late 2016’s, late twenty-teens, I could feel that. In a theater world, people would embrace me, but there, there are audiences that, that are still queerphobic, unfortunately.

Michael: When you’re performing and you mentioned earlier that the, that at the slam festival, there’s the zero poem that sort of like completely leaves the audience dead and then the ten has them going into orgasm, right? And so when you’re performing and you either confront an audience, you must sense it or see it in the audience where they’re phobic about whatever. They’re not reacting the way you want, or maybe they are going into orgasm, I don’t—can you just talk about that experience as a performer and, because you’re solo, you’re up there revealing yourself because it’s all about you and you’re having the audience take you one way that must make it very, because there’s no buffer there, right?

Regie: Yeah, I have performances and I go to colleges, and, like, I remember a college in Ohio and as soon as I say that I’m queer or the theme of queerness, I could feel the temperature in the auditorium drop. And you can, oh, let me just—but you gotta keep going. Like you just can’t stop in the middle, gotta, like a comedian, you gotta keep, gotta be committed. Commitment. Don’t. Sustain that.

And the Fringe show was probably like the most explicit, dirtiest show that I could probably ever muster. But it was fun to be really, to be, like, X-rated.

Michael: Sure. And with the comedians, I’ve seen comedians where if the audience starts getting uncomfortable, they go harder at the audience. Have you ever? Did you make it dirtier?

Regie: Nah, but it’s like you have Margaret Cho who’s very explicit and candid and being Asian. And I also, the ‘90s brought real fears in your face on queer activism and politics. I just don’t know that in spoken word there are… it’s a balance now. And what I find, unfortunately, is that some of the poems, call out culture. “Oh, that was offensive.” “Why did you say that?” And I’m like, “Thank you. It was written, like, in 2001. Thank you. It didn’t age well. Do not send the mob on me.” That’s definitely something that as a writer that you go through now, as we try to dismantle. “Oh, that was misogynistic, that was transphobic.” I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know that, sorry.”

Elizabeth: Yeah. It’s hard. Historically. Yeah. Bigger conversation.

Regie: But we’re pushing envelopes all the time, and what we’re trying to do in theater—what was the, the one that won? It was at Woolly Mammoth, it won the Tony for Best Musical, it was like, queer Black experience won the Tony, and it was like really explicit, and it takes the musical Hair to the next level, right? So I think that we’re… we’re pushing all kinds of boundaries in theater and maybe in, in spoken word and in poetry.

Elizabeth: Speaking of spoken word, many of our listeners probably know you through LA TI DO Productions and its cabaret performances at the Black Fox Lounge in DuPont Circle. And to quote from your website, quote, “Created by Don Michael Mendoza and Regie Cabico, LA TI DO made its debut to a full house in Washington, DC on January 23, 2012 at The Black Fox Lounge in DuPont Circle. Since then, LA TI DO became DC’s premier musical theater cabaret and spoken word series to serve the artistic community.” Close quote. And to continue to read from your mission statement, “LA TI DO Productions strives to be a premier community of cultural and artistic diversity and inclusion through music and spoken word collaboration.” Regie, can you tell our listeners who haven’t been to LA TI DO what an evening at the cabaret is like? How are performers selected and what’s the audience response like?

Regie: Oh, thank you for that question. So, 2012, maybe 2011 or 2010, I was doing a, I auditioned for a Fringe play by Amanda O’Connor. It was called Every Night I Die. It was Filipino cast. And I met Don Michael Mendoza, Don Mike Mendoza, and a young Filipino musical theater grad from American University. And so, I could also see myself in a Filipino queer musical theater performer. And I said, look, you’re going to have to create your own venue and, why don’t we do a series? I also missed singing and music, my musical theater roots, I wanted to be around it. DC doesn’t have the kind of cabaret culture that exists in New York, and it would be great to try to bring a sense of cabaret culture. And DC theater is white. It was white then and you can arguably say that it’s still white. And let’s see what we can do and bring and bring all these people together. And I think by creating community, there are people who audition, and they meet friends, and for musical theater actors, they can bring their song and they can sing. And it was important that I bring spoken word poetry to the musical theater performers. Actors see what spoken word could be, and that they could see an overlap, like a Broadway showstopper in the slam poem. It has a kind of real authenticity. Because you know singing a Broadway showstopper takes a lot, it’s a lot of fear, it’s a lot of guts just to sing. And even performing your poem takes a lot of guts. So it’s just really creating this authentic real space. And I didn’t see it happening And in terms of cabaret culture, you wouldn’t, I wouldn’t see—so some of these young, vibrant performers and some of them have gone on to do incredible work in New York, Jay Jones, African-American singer, is doing lots of stuff in New York. It’s just a form of inspiration and a venue for me to also perform my poetry.

Michael: Now, from my understanding, LA TI DO has gone to other cities. There’s a network of cities throughout the US?

Regie: Yep. And I have left a lot of the production management. Don Mike Mendoza has really ran, run with it, made it explode. And right now, Don Mike Mendoza is one of the co-producers of the first Filipino musical on Broadway called Here Lies Love. And I think Don Mike credits me for his producing career, which, it is wonderful, and I hope that it wins a Tony. That musical is, it bends what you can do in theater, right? It’s a rock concert, but it’s not. They ripped the, this, the chairs in the orchestra. So it’s a dance nightclub, like Studio 54. The singers, it, so it feels like karaoke. It’s musical. It’s an all-Filipino cast and there are Filipino amazing theater bigwigs who are in there. So it’s amazing that that’s a vehicle.

Michael: It sounds like it’s inspired a really remarkable community of artists and probably audiences as well. And collaborations have been spawned by it. Are there other collaborations that have come out of that venture?

Regie: Oh, man. I think that we, so many singer-songwriters and theater artists, we’ve produced many shows, it was just that every week was just, it just felt like a collaboration, people working together to create this show. And you didn’t know what it was going to be, but the element of realness and connection was really the power for the series.

Elizabeth: I want to switch gears, Regie, and go back to something you mentioned earlier moving from your performances on stage and in cabarets to the performing art of teaching. You’ve been, you’ve also designed and led a great many workshops and courses for youth and adults on poetry and the performance of poetry and I want to quote from an article in Smithsonian Magazine by Emily Toomey, she quotes you as advising aspiring writers that quote, “‘If you don’t know what to write a poem,’ says Regie,’” quote, “‘things that you could never tell your mother, things you could never tell your father, and a lot of it will come out.” So can you talk about how you came to be an educator in addition to being a poet and performer?

Regie: Thank you for the question. I never thought I would be an educator. I thought it was, it’s a huge responsibility. I was terrified of my acting teachers… and the evolution to be an educator was a way to make money. And it’s not for everyone. I remember my first teaching experience with adults at the Writer’s Voice in New York City. I thought I failed, and then I was, I had another workshop and people came back. And to be an educator you have to have the power to feel like you can create a safe space for people to be themselves. And I think it was an extension of doing open mics and giving people that positivity and a supportive space. So I think that, that was one of the first things that I learned as an educator. And… it has been a process, but I think the thing that really cut my teeth was teaching at Bellevue Hospital almost once a week for almost a decade, working with students who were in the psychiatric ward. And what, how do you get students to write who don’t want to write? And, and so teaching for special populations is really rewarding for me and I get it. In terms of teaching, give me the broken or give me the gifted or give me the broken who are gifted. Give me the broken where I can make them feel that they’re gifted. And there’s incredible writing to be found that is not high art, but real art. And that was something that I learned about. How do you get in touch with that?

In terms of education, it has been an evolution. Joy Jones and I also teach. And it took me a long time to see figure out that I can teach pre-K. And I can also, with Joy Jones, we also teach seniors with memory loss and Alzheimer’s. And it’s like… Pre-K and Alzheimer’s, there’s a parallel. And it’s been its own evolution, I think I thank DC for giving me the opportunity to, because I teach at the Kennedy Center, through the Kennedy Center, and in Maryland and Virginia, and I didn’t think that I could teach second graders how to do a slam, and to get them out there, but it is so cute, and it’s so rewarding.

Elizabeth: I wanna put a little plug in here for our mutual good friend, Joy Jones, whom we’ve also interviewed, and so invite people to listen to her wonderful interviews.

Michael: For me, as a lifelong teacher myself, and definitely teaching—those things that I’ve thought that where it was empowering, where I was helping the sort of the individual student discover something about themselves or their own agency, you know, it’s sorta like when earlier you were talking about, well, if I create my own stories, there’s an agency, there’s a power to that. And I’m certain working with students whether they’re old or whether they’re young, it’s that experience of them embracing a part of themselves and empowering themselves through that embrace that is the most rewarding. Can you maybe share a story about, an experience where that happened?

Regie: Before you lead a workshop, before I lead a workshop, I have an idea of what I’m gonna do, but I don’t really know what’s gonna happen because it is an improvisational—I have to see where the group is at and what they’re able to do. And you have to read the room quickly.

And one thing that I remember was being in an ELL, maybe third grade class. And some of these students do not have the strongest language reading and writing skills. And I play a little game. “When I opened the door, what came out? Oh, when I opened the door, out came a lion. When I opened the lion, out came a mouse. When I opened the mouse, out came a piece of cheese.” So it’s like this… this game where I want people to list. And I think listing is the beginning to poetry. So it’s what are a list of your triggers? What are a list of your glimmers? What are a list of things that are loud? What are things that calm you? So, listing is really good.

And anyway, “When I opened the door, out came— you go,” one thing opens and this boy said, “When I opened the door, out came Guatemala. When I opened Guatemala, out came my home. When I opened my home, out came my mom.” And the boy never spoke until he read that or said that. So I think, wow, it is not the most. It was an ambitious poem, but it was an honest, real piece. There’s something utterly beautiful about that. And I think everyone was crying and then everyone was moved.

And I think if I could get a 5th grader who is trans to speak about it, and the class gives them a perfect score of 30 and everyone is crying—it’s stuff like that where people are actually seen and heard. And I think when I did my poem I was seen and heard. I wasn’t Dracula. I wasn’t Delivery Boy. I wasn’t Chino from West Side Story. I was seen and heard. So I think it’s really about making people feel that they are seen and heard. Also, giving them the courage to just put a word or a mark.

Do you know how many people are terrified, or children, to draw? If I say, “Draw a circle,” they get scared. Or if I say, “What is your favorite food that you would like to learn how to make that you don’t know how to make?” Oh, they’re afraid. They’re like, “Oh, I don’t know.” It’s, it’s disheartening, but that’s the goal of what I have to do is, no, that’s okay do that. And I think that’s what’s rewarding. Getting them to find their poem, having other students listen to each other. And celebrating the difference. “Oh, I like this.” “This is my line.” And when we celebrate the difference, when we listen to each other, there’s no bullying. It’s not competitive. And students understand what it is to be the poet laureate. We’re applauding the football player or the cheerleader, but what does it mean to be a poet?

Elizabeth: Just to be able to create, as you just said, that environment, that kind of climate, that refuge in the classroom for just honest appreciation and acceptance without all the making fun of or laughing at or bullying, as you say.

Regie: And then also working with a senior population that has memory loss and a lot of people say they don’t really want to write, they just want you to perform. I’m like, no, we’re gonna. We’re gonna write something. Because for some of these participants, this is their last time to really get something and to really make a choice with their body to be looked at, to be seen, and to clap. “Wow, that was great.” You all crossed the line. Oh, wait, let’s snap it up for that. I think that’s the best medicine. Sure.

Michael: Now, in 2010, you founded Capturing Fire, a three-day international festival for queer-identifying writers with, quote, “the goal of encouraging more discussions and awareness about the queer experience.” Can you both tell our listeners more about this festival and especially what the participant responses were. Have there been follow up activities?

Regie: That’s a great question. Capturing Fire was there when I moved back to DC in 2016. Reinvigorating the poetry slam culture was really important to me and it’s probably one of my missions, this art form, which is a folk-art form. Yes, performance poetry is universal, but this particular genre of performance is an American art form. And I wanted DC to be on top of it.

Like, DC is jazz, right? And I love poetry and jazz. And it should also be, it should also be a slam poetry home. And Busboys and Poets was just opening up and it became a good home for that culture. So I feel like it was a gift for me to move back to DC as slam poetry culture was getting an elevation as a result of Busboys and Poets, that Sarah Browning could start Split This Rock, and that I can create a space for the DC Youth Slam Team. And I decided I want to, being the first openly queer and Asian American slam poet was really important for me, to make sure that my legacy gets preserved and that I get to nurture other queer poets from England and from Canada, and we would come together and we would share work. And it was my hope that people could find venues and travel to other cities.

So again, it’s making, let’s make DC a home, a hospitable home for spoken word poetry. And that’s an important thing because I didn’t know that people created a welcome home. Meaning that there was an open mic that Toni Asante Lightfoot created with It’s Your Mug. It was that, that regular open mic space, but it wasn’t a venue where I necessarily could perform in and I didn’t really know about it. It was before the internet, so if you were in your own open mic, you would just stay in your city. But now the proliferation to bring your work out as a result of the internet and as a result of the web, there’s so many things that, but around 2010, it was such a different beast, right? And it was an amazing experience.

And also, I publish books, so I didn’t want to publish books, but it just felt like an extension that I should be publishing queer voices and these are amazing local trans and queer poets that should be having books.

Elizabeth: Speaking of venues and proliferation, in August 2019, pre-pandemic, you performed at the Smithsonian’s Asian American Literature Festival, which I’m sure must have been an electrifying event, but when I read about that, I was reminded of a performance Michael and I went to back in, oh, about 1983 of the revolutionary left San Francisco Mime Troupe at the Kennedy Center, and Dan Chumley, who was one of their veteran members, came out on stage before the show and just shook his head and said that he couldn’t believe that the San Francisco Mime Troupe was performing at the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center, of course, being the pinnacle of kind of mainstream culture.

So, as someone whose entire life and career has been, has grappled with and revealed the inequities and contradictions and cruelties of our larger society, does, did it feel bizarre to be presenting at the nation’s leading museum? Or does that simply speak to the profound changes that you and so many others have helped bring to our nation’s premier cultural institutions?

Regie: It was an electrifying experience. There was one in 2017 and 2019. And what was electrifying about it was… the presence of seeing so many Asian American writers together. Because we are anomalies in our own world, but to really see spaces where it’s all Asian audience. It, first of all, the experience is not just for Asian people. It’s for the public. But the fact that we were center, the fact that we were center on our own terms, not exotified, and that we could create imaginary platforms, a presentation, like oh, let’s do a queer literoke event. Let’s look at children’s literature. Let’s do, let’s do Asian slam poetry. So, the fact that we have this visibility for the first time, the fact that the Smithsonian would sponsor it was just really incredible and makes DC powerful. And the, when we can be hospitable, and, as an artist, I’ve been fortunate to work with the Smithsonian many times, and they can do a great service.

Elizabeth: Yeah, it’s a remarkable institution, just, people in DC are so spoiled because everything is free.

Regie: Exactly, yeah.

Elizabeth: You go to New York, you go to Boston, you go to anyplace else, and you gotta pay serious money.

Regie: Exactly.

Elizabeth: You can see these wonderful exhibits. Yeah. Anyway, Regie, this has been so wonderful. We, we always ask our interviewers, interviewees, excuse me, something we always ask of all of our interviewees is to give some advice and practical suggestions to our listeners about how they can nurture and sustain their own creativity. So do you have any advice or sage counsel you could give to listeners, be they young people or elders or anyone striving to manifest and realize their own creative energy and sustain it in this not always welcoming world?

Regie: Elizabeth, that’s a great question. I think the pandemic was such an eye opener, right? And I’m going to go back to what advice do I have for an artist? Or young artists or even any artist. I think like during the pandemic a lot of epiphanies opened, I think for any artist, right? Like this, I may not have any more creative work. This might be the end. I think that was all in the back of our mind. I would try to find 10 beautiful things each day. I don’t necessarily believe in, like, writing a list of things that I’m grateful for because the things that you’re grateful for could be the same things every day. But I think by having the process of thinking about what was a moment of beauty today? And can I archive what that was? It’s just really powerful, whether it was that painting that I saw, or biting into that falafel, or what does beauty mean, what’s something, and being observant.

And there’s a practice for poets called 30/30, where in April they write a poem a day. And I thought, this is. Oh, that’s just, I just can’t do that. That’s not my process. And during the pandemic, I’m like let me write a poem a day. This is my chance. I may never get to do it again. So as I wrote a poem a day, I’m like, Regie this is just a poem a day. It’s not write a masterpiece a day. It’s like you write a poem a day. Like we all eat a meal a day, at least. So this isn’t like a masterpiece poem. Like a poem can be a haiku. It can be three words. But it’s the intent and the focus. And so I think if the daily practice of writing a play a day, which Suzan-Lori Parks does, and, a hero, she wrote a play a day during the pandemic, she did it during the wars in Iraq, the process of writing and not caring about it and being able to break something—because when you write every day you’re going to surprise yourself. And it surprised me. And I started to write a poem a day and I would give myself a word like maybe hinoki or something that, hinoki or croissants or and I would just write a short poem or a story or a parable or hyperbole. It would be really short.

So all of these poems came in a book and it’s called A Rabbit in Search of a Rolex. It’s my first published full-length book of poetry. So, I’m, like, I admit it’s taken me decades to put a book together. But I think the pandemic, I was like, you know what? Let me put this book out. The poems are not overtly personal, not overtly political. And let me just do this book. And Robert Bettmann from Day Eight Press supported that. And I’m really proud of that.

So what advice do I have is to write daily. To find beauty each day. Don’t overthink.

And I think I overthought my solo play. I overthought my first book of poetry. And it’s taken me, I’m like, I’m in my fifties and it’s, just let it go. I think the beauty of being in your 50s is that you just don’t care anymore. I just don’t care. I don’t care! And when I, when you saw me, I was cute and fierce and I could throw myself. I’m a little pudgy. When I was young, you could throw yourself against the wall like spaghetti. And I just don’t care anymore. I just want to enjoy my life and see what’s in front of me.

Elizabeth: I don’t want to put you on the spot, and apologies for not asking you this question in advance, but something, because this podcast is about theater in community, a question that’s been coming up in various discussions with theater makers from the ‘70s to the present is really this, the kind of crisis that American theater, particularly American regional theater, is in. And, Regie, you’re somebody who has been able, through your entire career, to create a community within safe spaces, to find places. Do you have any kind of philosophical thoughts about how the theater community, writ large, can respond, post-pandemic, to this kind of lack or this sort of drop in community support from audience members?

Michael: Oh really, it’s the entire artistic community. This is a, I guess this is a more negative effect of the pandemic. That there’s a crisis in this artistic, the growth of the artistic community.

Regie: It is a serious crisis that we are in American theater. I don’t know how to solve it. This crisis is universal. For example, an open mic at Busboys and Poets is not an open mic anymore. I think restaurants are at 60% profit now. You don’t get a Friday night audience at Busboys and Poets the way that you do. People just don’t want to go out anymore that late on a Friday. You’re looking at the closing of Busboys and Poets in Baltimore. So again, we’re working at a 60% capacity in restaurants. And when you go to theaters, they don’t have their funding. They’re cutting their plays, they’re cutting their season. Also playwrights are cutting rights because of improper use of their plays. And when you’re in an art form where you physically have to be there. Remember when Our Town at Shakespeare, they had 30 understudies?

Elizabeth: Oh, because of all the COVID.

Regie: It was like, and even on Broadway, like at Here Lies Love Lea Salonga had COVID and Josh Groban in Sweeney Todd had COVID. And so, if you can’t really be there consistently what are we going to do? I don’t know, and I don’t know what theater is going to look like. I think that we’re breaking forms in theater. I’m glad that Here Lies Love is on Broadway. It’s not your typical musical. You see a musical like Six, which is the wives of King Henry VIII. Is it really a musical, or is it just a rock concert of love? Six women who can really belt it out. What we look at as theater is changing.

For me to do my solo show, and when I do theater for pre-K kids, I have to break my notion of what theater is. Did I do a theater piece or was I really doing a workshop, an interactive workshop? Was this a happening?

Elizabeth: I love that.

Regie: Was this a happening? I think maybe we got to go back to a happening. And there was a theater in Philadelphia who was doing something in the park, and I think we’re going to have to get creative with space. And that’s what I’ve always had to do. I see a space—when I met Russwin Francisco who owns the Black Fox Lounge, it’s okay, we can do something here. Let’s do, let’s do a, let’s make it happen here. Let’s not stop ourselves, I like, look, I’m not going to get cast, so that’s, you’re not going to stop me from performing. But because you’re a theatrical institution, can we go back to the ‘80s and look at that model of—Sanctuary Theater was such a really raw space. And Source Theater.

Elizabeth: Oh, yes.

Regie: The old Source Theater. Such a raw space.

Elizabeth: Raw, yes. The ambient noise.

Regie: Oh, my God. Raw and red-light district. And you, you need like the debauchery and, like, where is that now? And like, wherever there is a debauchery space, a queer space, a raw space, is where you can find something really fertile. And Fringe, it’s not that raw as you think, it is still, it’s not raw, it’s still, it’s still highly stylized and highly organized, highly funded, it’s not grassroots. And I don’t even know how you kept Sanctuary moving.

Elizabeth: Oh, well. I mean we did for a long time, but we had a kind of sweetheart arrangement for the space. But it was rough space. Really rough space.

Regie: But I think that’s where you’re going to find theater that is… I don’t think, I think we have to be fearless about what theater is supposed to look like and what theater is supposed to be. And it just, it, it’s not going to work the way that it is. People are dropping their prices. People are trying to do what they can for that to happen.

Elizabeth: I think, as you said, a lot of it has to do with space and these kind of massive infrastructural buildings that need so much. That just consume so many resources. Anyway, it’s a much larger question. Regie, you have talked a little bit, the last thing we always like to ask our interviewees is what’s coming up, how our listeners can learn more about our interviewees. You’ve talked about your book of poetry, so can you just tell us quickly what’s, what’s next for you? Where can people find out more about you? What’s your website?

Regie: Oh man. My Instagram is @regieguy, R-E-G-I-E-G-U-Y. And I have a LinkedIn, but I never use it. But Instagram’s probably the best. I’m on Facebook too. There’s some fake Regie Cabicos, so really look for it.

Michael: You know you’ve made it when you have a lot—

Elizabeth: And bots are following you.

Regie: But the book is coming out and I’m really excited about that process. Man, it was a, it’s, I have to thank Robert Bettman for pushing that book out because he would make it easier. And you know when you get to the last phase of the book, it’s, “The book’s not done, Robert. There’s, it still needs an ending.” And I’m proud to say that five days ago, I found the ending for it. I pushed it. And it’s like building a house in parts. So that, that’s a great experience. A Rabbit in Search of a Rolex, check that out from Day Eight Press is the main thing that I’m looking forward to. And then I host an open mic at Busboys and Poets in Brookland on the fourth Friday of the month. And looking forward, I, you know what, speaking with you all, I miss my solo performance, I miss, and I gotta figure out what do I want to say in that venue? So, I think something is, 2013 was a long time ago and it’s, it’d be great to just come up with another piece. I’m inspired to do something.

Elizabeth: Yeah, time to do another show. Oh my gosh, this has been so wonderful. We’ve been talking with the incredible, inimitable Regie Cabico. Thank you for listening. This is the Theater in Community podcast series of Creativists in Dialogue.

Tremendous thanks to all our listeners. To those of you who are free subscribers, please consider becoming paid subscribers so that Creativists in Dialogue can continue bringing you insightful conversations about creativity from Washington, DC and beyond. Thanks.

Special shout out to Creativists in Dialogue’s production team: Audio engineer Elliot Lanes, social media manager Erin Dumas of Dumas83, and transcription editor Morgan Musselman. Thank you all.

For more information about Creativists in Dialogue, please visit or our Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn pages. To learn more about our other projects, please visit or

The Creativists in Dialogue podcast is supported in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and subscribers like you. The Theatre in Community podcast series is supported in part by Humanities DC. Thanks.