ALIENS Artist Profiles: Stephanie Ruas

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What’s your favorite (or extraordinary) skill that you had to learn for a show? I learned some extraordinary skills for this show thanks to our dancer/choreographer Myss Angie.

Why should people come see “Aliens with Extraordinary Skills”? At the heart of this dark comedy are the stories of people who come to this country looking for work, with big aspirations like starting their own business, creating art, and maybe even finding love. You’ll find a lot of gray area to wrestle with throughout Stanescu’s percussive scenes.

“Aliens” is the story of Nadia, who immigrates to the US from Moldova. How has immigration shaped your story, or your family’s story? My mom is from Puerto Rico, and my dad is from Cuba. They each came to
Minnesota without any other family. My mom’s sisters had spent a few years at a time working in New York, but they’d always gone back to Puerto Rico once they had earned enough money. Both of my parents worked very hard to call Minnesota home for my brother and I. My mom moved here to find work while Puerto Rico was still recovering from the early 1980s recession – and though she was born a US citizen due to the “special status” of Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth, she was often seen as a foreigner. Nevertheless, we’re very proud Boricuas, and I have a strong connection to the island since I’ve been able to visit my family there with some frequency over the years. My dad immigrated to the US as a Cuban refugee shortly after Castro took power. He was the first in his family to leave; although today nearly all of my relatives live in Miami, my grandparents never emigrated from Cuba, my dad never went back – not even to visit – and it would be 40 years before he could see his only brother again. I remember waiting in Miami International for hours as a kid, wondering what was taking so long for my Uncle and his family. I thought we were just picking them up from the airport. I didn’t really know much about US Customs & Border control at the time. When I first saw him I thought he looked much older than my dad, although he was my dad’s younger brother. He had undergone a lot suffering having spent the majority of his life in Cuba, and he passed away just a few years after immigrating to the US. I think of my dad when Borat talks about his mother who is sick back home in Russia. Like Borat, my dad would often send money back to his family. My grandmother did have the opportunity to visit Minnesota, and though my dad begged her to stay and assured her he would pay for everything, she said she had to go back, “where I am loved and I am needed.” He knew that would be the last time he saw her. I would say that one of the hardest parts of being an immigrant is the risk of having your family torn apart, either by the financial or political need to leave your family behind, or the struggle to maintain the family unit while remaining in compliance with or failing to meet US immigration and visa law. I am privileged to have been born in this country, raised speaking English as my first language, and received my education – and I have my parents to thank for that.

Stephanie Ruas (Lupita) is a Twin Cities actor from Minneapolis. You may have seen her earlier
this year in TU’s Smackdown (“Behind the Screams”). She’s thrilled to be part of this season’s Aliens. Recent theatre credits include, Minnesota Orchestra/ Teatro del Pueblo: Ferdinand the Bull, Park Square Theatre: The House on Mango Street, and Pangea World Theater: Bandara. Training: B.B.A., University of Notre Dame in Marketing and Theatre. She’d like to thank her loving spouse for his support and her inspiring family for the sacrifices they made to call Minnesota home. You can catch her next in Ludlow at Nimbus Theatre in November.

Aliens with Extraordinary Skills runs September 9-24 at Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul. Buy tickets here.

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