Georgina Leanse Escobar: The DLG-Proust-Actors Studio Questionnaire

by Joseph McKeown

Georgina with Owen in New Mexico.

Georgina with Owen in New Mexico.

Born in Ciudad Juárez, Georgina was supposed to be a veterinarian at the family’s cattle ranch, “Los Peñascos,” in Mexico. At least that’s what her grandfather wanted. She even went to the University of Texas at El Paso to study science and biology. It was acting in a production of The Hobbit as Galadriel, the wood elf queen, that “derailed” her plan. She realized: “This is a lot more fun than physics, chemistry, and biology; and a lot easier.” After graduating with a degree in humanities and philosophy she later tried to enroll in a science program to become an equine scientist at New Mexico State University, but had a chance encounter that cemented her course to become a playwright. “Like a movie, my Merlin appeared, from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and he said, ‘I’ll offer you a full ride, a full scholarship, to come and do dramatic writing.’ He knew my work from a short play that had gone to the regional Kennedy Center festival. He got me.”

She loved her time in the high deserts of the Southwest. “New Mexico has given me the most culture shock than any other place in the world,” she says. “It’s so unique. It was very productive for me to be there. I guess I’m attracted to high places with low oxygen—there’s something about constant hypoxia that my body recognizes as normal. As far as the culture goes, New Mexico is one of the only places where the ancient Mexican and Spanish, the white, and Native American ancestry, have combined in a very distinct way, and function under the New Mexican identity. And that's very apparent in their art and their art-making.”

After she received her MFA in dramatic writing, she worked at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut, and made her way to New York City. In the city, she did stints as a nanny, in arts marketing, and was hired to work the graveyard, aka “poet’s shift,” at a law firm. Earlier this year, she joined Daryanani Law Group, where she works part-time as a legal writer and continues to write speculative fiction for the stage. “I’m very interested in investigating how semiotic, literal, and speculative language works in the theatre,” she says.

Georgina lives in Manhattan with her wife and two cats Gato Shane and Pipo, who are “big, like pumas.” Not a cattle ranch, but still it all worked out “beautifully.”

(Questions taken from and/or inspired by the Proust/Inside the Actors Studio/Bernard Pivot/AnOther Magazine questionnaires).

What is your favorite word?
Petrichor. I grew up in the desert. The smell of tierra mojada or ‘wet dirt’ as we know it in Spanish, is immediately accompanied by a sense of relief. I didn’t know there was a word for it until I learned English.

What is your least favorite word?
Silhouette because I can never, ever spell it. (I had to spellcheck it here.)

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Travel, painting, music, and philosophy. But also, and probably most importantly: family. The Escobar’s are a tight-knit bunch and it wasn’t until moving to NY and being so far from any family that I realized how important they are to my creative, spiritual, and emotional health.

What turns you off?
Unkindness. As Kurt Vonnegut said, “There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."

What is your favorite curse word?
All the Spanish ones, they just roll off the tongue.

What sound or noise do you love?
The clarinet. When we were young, my grandmother used to play Prokofiev’s Peter and The Wolf on LP. I didn’t know what the cat’s instrument was until I was older, and the first time I laid eyes on a clarinet, and heard it played live, I fell in love. I played for five years and recently bought a piece at a flea market. I’m rusty, to say the least, but I’m hoping to get back in shape.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Motorcycles. People yelling. Loud noises in general. I turn into Brick Tamland from Anchor Man REAL fast when things go above a normal speaking voice decibel.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Before turning to playwriting, I was in school for equestrian sciences. In fact, I came to this country to study biology, certain that I would become a sort of zoologist. I think a part of me likes to believe that I chose correctly, though another part still longs for the solitary and rewarding life of an animal scientist.

What is your idea of happiness?
The constant contribution of complex philosophies against simple living and frequent travel.

What is your idea of misery?
Maddening materialism.

If not yourself, who would you be?        
That guy that they call the Lion Whisperer? That one.

Where would you like to live?    
Assisi in Umbria, Italy. But also Zacatecas, Mexico, where I spent my formative years. They’re very, very similar.

Who are your favorite prose authors?  
Isabel Allende, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Garcia Marquez, Miguel Ruiz, Jorge Luis Borges, and so many more. I read a lot of non-fiction and I love Rebecca Solnit, Stephen Greenblatt, and David Graeber.

Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?         
Mattie Ross (True Grit), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Spider Jerusalem (Transmetropolitan), Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones), and Imperator Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road).

Who are your heroes in real life?         
My grandmother Berthil.

 What would your last meal be?  
Tagliatelle a la nonna.

What do you hate the most?
Cruelty—‘that imaginary kingship that people give us over the other creatures.’      

What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
I would love to have the ability to pick up ANY instrument and play expertly. 

How do you wish to die?  
Quickly. Suddenly. No old-age, sick-for-years, to-be-expected kind of thing. That terrifies me.

What is your present state of mind?      
Health. Healthcare. How much we take health for granted. What a gift it is. And how this unscrupulous nation handles it.

For what fault have you most toleration?         
Imperfection. Evolution is a matter of accident. Change is a matter of imperfection. I think it’s what keeps us human, and what makes art exist.

What are you thinking of right now?
My grandmother Berthil…

What makes you laugh?
Making my older sister laugh. She has a contagious, delicious, sweat-inducing laugh and a lot of times it means I have to clown around for a good ten minutes to get that explosive laugh, but it’s SO worth it.

What makes you cry?
Well recently, I realized Bill Murray does. Sort of…Have you seen that movie St. Vincent? The last bit of that movie made me weep like a Magdalene. I suppose that means something about the Catholic religion makes me weep. For all sorts of reasons…

What is the biggest risk youʼve ever taken?
I worked as an assistant promoter and marketing director for Latino Events, a branch of Live Nation Latino. I was deep in the music industry and making very good money at an early age. But it just wasn’t for me. So I left. I went from having a good salary to waiting tables. Worth it.

What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
The printing press, for making it near impossible to kill a book and, therefore, ideas. I think about all the texts from the past that have been forever lost to wars, natural disasters, or the Inquisition. I guess the Internet is second best to the printing press for that same reason, but I’m still making my mind up about that one.

Where do you feel most at home?
Mexico. Something very deep happens when I cross the border. It is instant—I hear the language, I see the people, I smell the food, and I feel my mother, whom I lost when I was seven years old. Every time I go I return to her embrace, and I know I’m home.

What is your proudest achievement in life?
Speaking of my mother—I wrote a play for young audiences called Ash Tree which is about three little girls searching for their mother inside the stories and paintings of her own making. It won the National TYA Award from the Kennedy Center, and it is constantly at high schools and sometimes at hospitals as it deals with grieving children, which I guess is not very popular anywhere else.

What do you most like about the age we live in?
My sister has been in and out of the hospital lately. I have been able to FaceTime w/ her, have "dinner" together, and keep her company. I also frequent the Skype Bar, meaning, I’ll have a glass of wine "with" friends across the globe. That’s pretty neat.

Whatʼs the best advice youʼve been given?
My grandmother on the four agreements of Toltec wisdom: speak with integrity, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best.

What is a book or movie that has changed your perspective on life?
And It Came to Pass—Not To Stay by Bucky Fuller, The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson, The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit, and Aesop’s Fables.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
Slicing my hand open on something. I was a climber. Climbed trees, fridges, cabinets…

If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
Matriarch societies would rule. Like the orcas, lions, honeybees, meerkats, elephants….