Jesusa Rodriguez (born 1955, Mexico City, Mexico) is a Mexican director, actress, playwright, performance artist, and social activist.
Her "espectaculos" (a Spanish word that can mean both spectacle and show) do not necessarily adhere to traditional genre classification: they can reflect elite styles or popular; draw on Greek tragedy, cabaret, pre-Columbian, operatic traditions; take the form of a revue, sketch, "carpa", or political performance art (Abelleyra). She and her wife, Argentine singer/actress Liliana Felipe, operated El Habito and Teatro de la Capilla, alternative performances spaces in Mexico City, until 2005. El Habito is now under the administration of Las Reinas Chulas, and Rodriguez is now dedicated to independent projects (Harmony).
In the 1980s Rodriguez notably directed an adaption of Mozart's Don Giovanni, featuring an all-female cast, entitled Donna Giovanni (1983), and Oskar Panizza's El Concilio de Amor (The Council of Love) in 1988. Rodriguez won an Obie for Best Actor in Las Horas de Belen, A Book of Hours (1999) along with Ruth Maleczech and New York-based Mabou Mines (Gates).
The 1993 Rodriguez's Coatlicue transforms a pre-Hispanic statue from the Mexica (Aztec) Room of Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum into an animated being (the real mother of Mexicans) running for Mexico’s presi- dency. Through the use of an indigenous female icon confined in a museum, the artist parodies the attitude of official Mexican politicians toward their country’s problems. Rodriguez’s Coatlicue calls upon her children not to forget her and complains about not having a special car (a “mama-mobile”) like the pope’s. Rodriguez calls the show “pre-Hispanic cabaret,” thus point- ing to the need to reduce the load of monolithic myths upon which closed- minded nationalism tends to be based. (Interview with Jesusa Rodriguez, Hemispheric Institute: http://hidvl.nyu.edu/video/000516040.html)
Other famous female icons re-created by Rodriguez in her shows include Frida Kahlo (Trece senoritas-1983), La Malinche (the conqueror Hernan Cortes’ translator, transformed by Rodriguez into an interpreter for the Emperor Zedillitzin—former president Ernesto Zedillo—and the U.S. Marines) and the nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz ("Sor Juana en Almoloya"-1995), whom Rodriguez imagines as incarcerated in the Almoloya penitentiary, for- merely a readaptation prison (a reformatory for people accused of nonviolent crimes, in 2001 renamed Las Palmas). Jesusa has impersonated Sor Juana in many political demonstrations and as part of the Pride March, Mexico City’s annual gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender political demonstration. In these particular cases Rodriguez has represented her version of Mexican history "by revisiting and emphasizing the dissident sexualities of these women, who have been hidden or strategically forgotten by official culture".
Rodriguez also contributes regularly to Mexico's most important feminist journal, Debate Feminista.