Carmen Aguirre is a Chilean-Canadian author, actor, and playwright, a Core Artist at Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre, and co-founder of The Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition (CALTAC).
She wrote her first play, In a Land Called I Don’t Remember, while still a student at Studio 58, where it premiered to critical acclaim. It was published by Talonbooks in 2019 in an anthology of her first three plays, entitled Chile Con Carne and Other Early Works. Since then, much of her writing has been autobiographical and unabashedly left wing, exploring themes of exile, loss, alienation, and isolation.
She founded The Latino Theatre Group in 1994, made up of Latinx non-actors from the local community, and co-created over twenty-five Forum Theatre pieces with them over the next eight years, including two full-length plays, ¿QUE PASA with LA RAZA, eh? and Spics n’ Span.
She continues to facilitate Theatre of the Oppressed workshops for refugee groups, indigenous communities, and youth groups. Her plays have been nominated for twelve local and national awards, and The Refugee Hotel won the 2002 Jessie Richardson New Play Centre Award.
Currently she is touring her hit one-woman play Broken Tailbone across Canada, in which she teaches the audience how to dance salsa while navigating Latin American history, Latinx culture, and personal anecdotes.
Carmen has over eighty film, television, and stage acting credits. She has published in the United Kingdom, Holland, and Finland and she will be published in Italy in 2020 by Nuova Editrice Berti Publishers. Something Fierce received rave reviews on the international stage, won CBC Canada Reads in 2012, was nominated for national and international awards, and is a #1 national bestseller.
Her second memoir, Mexican Hooker #1 and My Other Roles Since the Revolution, was published in April 2006 in North America.
Carmen, a graduate of Studio 58, is the recipient of the 2014 10 Most Influential Hispanics in Canada Award, the 2014 Latincouver Inspirational Latin Award for Achievement in Arts and Culture, the 2012 Outstanding Alumna Award from Langara College, the 2011 Union of B.C. Performers Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award, and the 1993 Anthony Golland Award, presented by ACTRA.
Carmen has left an indelible mark throughout her life and everywhere she has been. Her friends, family and colleagues describe her as having an indomitable spirit. Carmen fights to create a more inclusive narrative in her roles as actress and writer, and has demonstrated that her life and work are based on her fight to defend her principles. As an activist, she has been actively involved with opposing the Chilean dictatorship several decades ago, punishing those responsible for sexual violence, and protecting refugee rights in Canada.
Between acting, writing, caring for her son, and her activism, Carmen never stops. Her energy and passion inspired her to tour Canada from coast to coast, and to create some of the most cutting-edge pieces in the industry.
Carmen has written and co-written more than twenty-five plays.
Her first play was “In a Land Called I Don’t Remember”. It is an autobiographical piece that takes place entirely on a bus in the Andes Mountains, travelling from Argentina to Chile.
Carmen has written two autobiographical books. They are born from a deep reflection on her own life, and her vocation as an actress and writer. In her first book, Carmen explores her life as a Chilean refugee in Canada and, at the same time, as a victim of sexual assault years later. Her second book focuses on her profession as an actress and writer. Both are reflections on the human experience from the perspective of an artist who has lived many lives in one.
Carmen talks about how Chilean exiles condemned the dictatorship from outside of the country and how they contributed to its downfall.
The greatest prize received by Carmen is probably her contribution to the multiple dialogues that have changed society. Helping Chilean exiles in her youth, changing the stigma against refugees in Canada, her perseverance, all of this has made the arts and culture industry in this country increasingly inclusive. These awards are a testament to her importance in Canadian culture.
Carmen has one of the longest careers of any Latinx actress in Canada. Her career is a benchmark for future generations. She has a talent that still has a lot to offer.