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PRESS RELEASE: Yek Peyna Guxgatan (Good Morning, El Salvador)

Updated: May 12


May 5, 2024

Contact: Renee Browne /

Angel Rose Artist Collective presents

In Co-Production with T.E.L.A.S. Colectivo Teatral


(Translation: Good Morning, El Salvador! / Buenos Días, El Salvador!)

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Petrona Xemi Tapepechul

Directed by Melissa Strova Valencia Music Direction facilitated by Melissa Strova Valencia and Petrona Xemi Tapepechul,  and devised by Yereth Adorno, Layla Nabavi, Sofia Ramos, Petrona Xemi Tapepechul, and Wilmer Xuarez

Choreography facilitated by Melissa Strova Valencia, and devised by Yereth Adorno, Layla Nabavi, Sofia Ramos, Petrona Xemi Tapepechul, and Wilmer Xuarez Dramaturgy: Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez and Petrona Xemi Tapepechul

Washington, DC - Unceded Piscataway Land -

Angel Rose Artist Collective continues its 2023-2024 season with a collaboration with T.E.L.A.S. Colectivo Teatral, for their Main Stage Production, Yek Peyna Guxgatan with book, music, and lyrics by Petrona Xemi Tapepechul, and direction, music direction facilitation, and choreography facilitation by Melissa Strova Valencia. This production will be presented in Nawat, Spanish, and English, beginning on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 until Saturday, June 8 at Sitar Arts Center, 1700 Kalorama Road, NW Suite 101 Washington, DC 20009.

This production is being produced in benefit of Tamachtiluyan Shuchikisa An Ne Nawat (TSANN), a virtual Nawat-language school founded by first language speaker from Wizapan, Senzunat in western El Salvador, Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez (1962-2024). TSANN is a DC-based project by ARAC, the DMV chapter of la Asociación Nacional Indígena Salvadoreña (ANIS; translation: the National Association of Indigenous Salvadorans), and Trans-Latinx DMV. Yek Peyna Guxgatan is presented in honor of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, and is dedicated to Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez.

Angel Rose Artist Collective (ARAC) is a Two-Spirit Transgender Native-led group that centers healing through the arts. Named in honor of Angel Rose, a 21 year old Trans Woman who lost her life on December 10, 2019, who was an integral part of the collective. ARAC strives to provide artistic opportunities for LGBTQIA+ BIPOC, particularly Trans and Intersex folks with disabilities, migrant/refugee backgrounds, low- or no-higher education status, and other experiences that may affect a human being’s access to the arts. Though ARAC’s main avenue of expression is theater, the collective is made up of multidisciplinary artists, including, but not limited to: clothing designers, digital designers, painters, dancers, singers, teaching artists, puppet makers, poets, drag performers, dubbing artists/voice actors, and more. Visit ARAC’s website: 

T.E.L.A.S. Colectivo Teatral (Translation: Experimental Theater Social Artistic Laboratory Theater Collective), is a space of collective creation where sociodrama and performance take on a healing and transforming role in the social realities that we face as members of different communities from our playful and artivist being.  Art to transform.

At Sitar Arts Center, students engage in affordable, high-quality education and workforce development in the visual, digital, and performing arts. Each semester, 80% of students are from DC households at 60% or less of the area median income. Programs take place year-round during out-of-school time in Sitar’s state-of-the-art facilities.

Yek Peyna Guxgatan is a heartwarming story about a Salvadoran-American grandchild visiting their grandmother in El Salvador for the first time, and discovering their Indigenous history and language through song.

Yek Peyna Guxgatan is a play full of fun, family love, history and culture from El Salvador. Its vibrant songs are a joyful way to introduce children into the Nawat language and the importance of revitalizing indigenous languages.” says Yek Peyna Guxgatan Director, Melissa Strova Valencia, “Keeping indigenous languages alive is a resistance act against colonization of our cultures. It is important for me to produce this play mainly because of the territory we are located in. Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland are occupied territories, where there is a lot of migration of people from other countries, and the Central American community is a large percentage of the immigrant community in the city. This play allows children and families to reflect on their ancestors' history, on the territories they come from, on their mother tongue, and to empathize with this childhood experience, of those who are born in the United States and are of the first generation of their families to have other cultures and ways to relate with the world. I feel being part of these stories is a responsibility of being an immigrant artist in this land. I'm part of this project in order to bring art together, to bring community together, and to support community spaces where indigenous cultures and peoples can thrive.”

This play, inspired by the playwright’s experiences as a Salvadoran-born Washingtonian, celebrating the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, is made possible with financial support from 360Healthx and Trans Justice Funding Project, and with language interpretation provided by TransTerps DC and Independent Professional Interpreters.

The 16 performance-run at Sitar Arts Center will be: Tuesday, May 28 at 10:30 am

Tuesday, May 28 at 12:30pm

Wednesday, May 29 at 10:30 am

Wednesday, May 29 at 12:30 pm

Thursday, May 30 at 10:30 am

Thursday, May 30 at 12:30 pm

Friday, May 31 at 10:30 am

Friday, May 31 at 12:30 pm

Saturday, June 1 at 3:30 pm (ASL Interpreted) Monday, June 3 at 10:30 am

Monday, June 3 at 12:30 pm

Wednesday, June 5 at 10:30 am

Wednesday, June 5 at 12:30 pm

Friday, June 7 at 10:30 am

Friday, June 7 at 12:30 pm

Saturday, June 8 at 3:30 pm (ASL Interpreted)


Petrona Xemi Tapepechul from the Nawat people of Guxgatan, the land known internationally as El Salvador, is se Siwayul- a heart of a Womxn. She is the Managing Artistic Director of Angel Rose Artist Collective. She is the author of Metzali: Siwayul Shitajkwilu and My Woman Card is anti-Native & other Two-Spirit Truths; and editor of Two-Spirits Belong Here: Anthology of LGBTQIA+ Native American Artists. Xemi has written various plays, including: The Cosmic Twins, Timumachtikan Nawat/Aprendamos Nawat/Let’s Learn Nawat, Kanshul (Act of Faith), Protect & Preserve, La Madre Amable (a pesar de ella misma), Illegal NDN, Yultaketzalis, and Siwayul (Heart of a Womxn). Her work has been featured across various theatre companies, universities, community groups, and the internet. She can be found on Facebook and Instagram at XemiNeSiwayul, and can be found on Patreon at

(Petrona Xemi Tapepechul)


Yek Peyna Guxgatan is directed, music direction facilitated, and choreography facilitated by Melissa Strova Valencia (she/her), and dramaturgy by Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez (she/her) and Petrona Xemi Tapepechul (she/her).

Melissa Strova Valencia (she/her) is an Abya Yala’s artivist, actress, storyteller, dancer, musician, and educator, native of the occupied territory of the Chibcha, Caribes and Arawak people (Colombia). She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from San Buenaventura University in Colombia, a master’s degree in Advanced Theatre Studies from La Rioja International University in Spain, and a diploma in Art in Early Childhood from the Ministry of Culture and San Buenaventura University in Colombia. She also has studies in neurobiology and art therapy. She is currently based in Washington, DC and works as a teaching artist for early childhood and youth at Children’s House of Washington, Sitar Arts Center, Bancroft Elementary School, Springwell School, Gala Hispanic Theater, Inspired Child, Musitodo, and at TELAS which she founded and works as organizer, facilitator, and artist. Some of her DC Area acting credits include: La llamada de Silvia Mendez, Rigoberta ¿Dónde estás?, Dancing through Latin America, Yo también hablo de la rosa and Volcanoes at GALA Hispanic Theatre; La Magia del Arcoiris and Siempre Amigos at Teatro de la Luna; The Earth That is Sufficient with The Welders; Madres de la Revolución, Drum my Heart, Travel Buddies, and Dream of Azul with TLB. She has many other credits in Colombia with Teatro Barajas Defensa Animal and Teatro Experimental de Cali. Her approach is developed in Abya Yala’s social theater with social focus and collective creation, and in art therapy with a greater depth in drama therapy and music therapy, using theater and music as a therapeutic tool to work with communities who have suffered violence, especially early childhood.

(Melissa Strova Valencia) Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez (she/her) from Santo Domingo de Guzman, Sonsonate, El Salvador was the youngest child of Bernavela Lopez Garcia and Anacleto Lopez Ramirez. She was raised in a Nawat speaking family, and did not learn Spanish until the age of 9. Nanzin Anastacia was a Nawat language educator, spreading love and knowledge to toddlers and adults alike. Her first album of music “Shuchiguisa An Ne Nawat is a digital representation of the legacy Nanzin Anastacia wanted to leave behind for her grandchildren, for the Nawat-speaking community, and to all those who wish to protect the language. As International Chief of the National Association of Indigenous Salvadorans (ANIS), Nanzin Anastacia founded Tamachtiluyan Shuchikisa An Ne Nawat, so that Transgender and Queer Salvadorans in the diaspora could have a safe place to learn, be affirmed, and develop their understanding of their heritage language and traditions. Nanzin Anastacia passed away on May 1, 2024, after a long battle with her physical health. Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez is survived by her three sons, two daughters-in-law, four grandchildren, 3 sisters, 1 brother, and hundreds of people worldwide that she birthed into New Speakers of Nawat.

(Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez)

Michael Basilas (they/them) and Arlin Tellez (she/they) are Co-Stage Managers; ARAC's Visual Art & Literary Director, Ahanu From the Blood (they/them), is Co-Puppet Designer (along with Strova Valencia), Co-Set Designer (along with Tapepechul) & Prop Designer; Phoenix Sweeney (fae/faer/faer {neo}, it/it/its, & hit/hit/hits {archaeo}) is Light Designer & Projections Designer; Gianira Illescas (she/her) is Sound Designer; Lisc. Rebeca Lourdes Garcia Soundy of LESSAVirtual (she/her) is LESSA (Salvadoran Sign Language) Translator; Andrew Robertson (he/him) is Production Photographer; and Strova Valencia and Tapepechul are Co-Costume Designers.

(Top: Basilas, From the Blood, Garcia Soundy; Middle:  Illescas, Robertson, Strova Valencia; Bottom: Sweeney, Tapepechul, Tellez)

The production cast and devising team features: Petrona Xemi Tapepechul (she/her) as Track 1: Zalani, Campesina 1, As Cast; Sofia Ramos (she/her) as Track 2: Abuela, Campesina 2, As Cast; Wilmer Xuarez (he/him) as Track 3: Atagat, Ama, As Cast; Yereth Adorno (she/her) as Understudy Track 1 & Understudy Track 2; and Layla Nabavi (she/her) as Understudy Track 3.

(Top: Adorno, Nabavi; Bottom: Ramos, Tapepechul, Xuarez)

Yereth Adorno, Lisc. Rebeca Lourdes Garcia Soundy, Gianira Illescas, Layla Nabavi, Phoenix Sweeney, and Arlin Tellez make their Angel Rose Artist Collective debut.


Regular Adult tickets are $25; Regular Child tickets are $15.. Sliding scale tickets are between $5-$50. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit Yek Peyna Guxgatan’s webpage.



Financially supported by:

Language Interpreting & Captioning Services by:

In Honor of:

Dedicated to:

(Nanzin Anastacia Lopez Lopez)

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