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Jesusa Rodríguez Papers

Call Number



1977-2019, inclusive
; 1983-2009, bulk


Rodríguez, Jesusa
Taylor, Diana, 1950-
Rodríguez, Jesusa


9.75 Linear Feet in 5 record cartons, 3 manuscript boxes, 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder, and 1 oversize backdrop
21.58 Gigabytes

Language of Materials

Materials primarily in Spanish. Some materials are also in English, French, and German.


Laura María de Jesús Rodríguez Ramírez, known as Jesusa Rodríguez (born 1955 in Mexico City) is a director, actress, playwright, performance artist, scenographer, social activist, and senator (Moreno Party) in Mexico's Congress. She and her partner, Argentine singer/actress Liliana Felipe, operated El Hábito and Teatro de la Capilla, alternative performances spaces in the Coyoacán municipality of Mexico City, until 2005. In the 1980s Rodríguez notably directed an adaption of Mozart's Don Giovanni, featuring an all-female cast, entitled Donna Giovanni, and Oskar Panizza's El Concilio de Amor. Rodríguez won an Obie for Best Actor in Las Horas de Belén, A Book of Hours (1999) along with Ruth Maleczech and Mabou Mines. Rodríguez also contributes regularly to Mexico's most important feminist journal, Debate Feminista. This collection contains scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, magazines, photographs, contact sheets, programs and other ephemera, certificates, ID cards, diagrams, drafts and revisions of scripts, sketches, notes, sheet music, financial budgets, and correspondence from between 1977-2011 related to the creation and development of Jesusa Rodríguez's works as a director, playwright, and performance artist. The collection also contains materials relating to her work as a political and social activist, as documented by flyers, handouts, printed PowerPoint slides, articles, and optical discs containing video regarding gobierno legítimo de México, Creativa Resistencia, and the empowerment workshops that Rodríguez conducted. There are also empowerment workshop materials and participant letters.

Biographical Note

Laura María de Jesús Rodríguez Ramírez, known as Jesusa Rodríguez (born 1955 in Mexico City) is a director, actress, playwright, performance artist, scenographer, social activist, and senator (Moreno Party) in Mexico's Congress.

Well-known for her espectáculos, she steeped her performances in social and political commentary, and brought art into her activism. Although she is best known for her cabaret and political works, she has directed adaptations of diverse pieces, from William Shakespeare to Marguerite Yourcenar, opera to pastorelas.

Rodríguez studied at Centro Universitario de Teatro in Mexico City, and studied under director Julio Castillo, with whom she worked on several productions as a set designer, including Arde Pinocho. Early in her career she met her wife, Argentine singer and actress Liliana Felipe. They opened their first cabaret together, El Fracaso, and formed the theater group Divas A.C. with other actresses and playwrights. Divas A.C. would collaborate on many significant productions, including ¿Y cómo va la noche, Macbeth?, Trece señoritas: homenaje a Frida Kahlo, and most notably, Donna Giovanni.

An adaptation of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Donna Giovanni featured an all-female cast and toured across Europe. In 1988, Jesusa directed and starred in Oskar Panizza's El Concilio de Amor, which was also presented in several European countries and North America. In 1998, she first presented Las Horas de Belén in Mexico City, before staging the work Off-Broadway alongside Ruth Maleczech and Mabou Mines.

Jesusa Rodríguez first opened the performance space El Fracaso before opening and running the famous Teatro Bar El Hábito with her wife, Liliana Felipe. They ran El Hábito from 1990 to 2005, and over this span of 15 years, transformed their alternative performance space into a symbol of Mexican independent theater. Jesusa directed and staged hundreds of shows at El Hábito with numerous artists. In 2005, El Hábito was passed on to another cabaret group, Las Reinas Chulas, who changed the venue's name to El Vicio.

Alongside Liliana Felipe and fellow performer Regina Orozco, Jesusa Rodríguez had also done extensive work with indigenous communities throughout Mexico. Between 2001 and 2004, they ran workshops on empowerment, sex education, and re-articulating Mexican masculinity. Their workshops incorporated their theater experience, and they ran twenty-one of these workshops for indigenous and peasant women and men across 18 states of Mexico.

Jesusa's work as a performance artist informs her political and social activism, blending performance and protest into creative or artistic activism. She was involved in protests against substituting native corn for transgenic corn and the purchase of Monsanto by Bayer. She was also a part of the peaceful resistance movement and headed Resistencia Creativa, a movement that used "massive cabaret" as a political action tool. The movement was purportedly born in El Hábito, out of Mexico's highly contested 2006 general election and the political polarization and crisis that followed. With the election of conservative ruling party candidate Felipe Calderón by a fraction of a percentage, presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador immediately challenged the legitimacy of the election and its results. López Obrador and his supporters, including Resistencia Creativa, led mass protests, marches, and acts of civil disobedience, which culminated in a massive rally in Mexico City's historic Zócalo on July 30, 2006.

When then-senator Olga Sanchez Cordero became Secretary of the Interior in 2018, Rodríguez took Cordero's seat in the Senate. She is the first openly gay senator in Mexico.

Rodríguez also contributes regularly to Mexico's most important feminist journal, Debate Feminista.


The Jesusa Rodríguez Papers are arranged in four series:

Series I. Theater

Series II. Publications

Series III. Activism

Series IV. 2022 Accretion

Scope and Contents

The Jesusa Rodríguez Papers documents the development and process of significant theatrical productions in Jesusa Rodríguez's career as a theater director and performance artist, as well as the publicity and press related to this work. Some of the works prominently documented are Donna Giovanni and El Concilio de Amor. Additional works also featured in the collection are Ambrosio o La Fábula del Mal Amor, Las Horas de Belén, Atracciones Fénix, Pastorela Extraterrestre, and Così Fan Tutte. A large portion of the collection also documents the productions and events of the alternative performance spaces that she and her partner, Liliana Felipe owned and operated, El Fracaso and El Hábito. A large portion of the collection, particularly productions staged between 1983-1994, consists of scrapbook binders containing press clippings, photographic prints, contact sheets, negatives, theater programs, promotional materials, and other ephemera. Other materials documenting her theatrical productions include a curtain backdrop for Donna Giovanni, correspondence, magazines, newspapers, scripts and notes, drafts of lyrics, sheet music, articles, printed images, photographs, flyer layouts, brochures, financial documents, promotional mailers, fellowship proposals and applications, CDs and DVDs containing audio, video, and data, festival programs, certificates, identification cards, invitations, scene sketches and other drawings, painted illustrations, set designs and blueprints, and a calendar. As a social activist, Jesusa was involved in the protests surrounding the 2006 election, the peaceful civil resistance movement, and the anti-transgenic corn (En defensa del maíz) movement. For several years in the early 2000s, she ran empowerment workshops for indigenous and peasant women in Mexico. These activities are documented with press clippings, workshop materials and letters from workshop participants, flyers, handouts, printed PowerPoint slides, articles, and CDs and DVDs containing video and data.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Jesusa Rodríguez were transferred to New York University in 2011 by Jesusa Rodríguez and Diana Taylor. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. Please contact

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Jesusa Rodríguez Papers; TAM 592; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Location of Materials

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Jesusa Rodríguez in 2011. The accession number associated with this collection is 2011.122. In October 2022, an accretion of materials previously held at the NYU Hemispheric Institute was transferred to the Tamiment collections; the accession number associated with this addition is 2022.083.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Advance notice is required for the use of computer records. Original physical digital media is restricted. An access terminal for born-digital materials in the collection is available by appointment for reading room viewing and listening only. Researchers may view an item's original container and/or carrier, but the physical carriers themselves are not available for use because of preservation concerns.


Extensive duplicates of handouts from the Activism series were discarded, with 3 copies retained.

Collection processed by

Maggie Schreiner and Amy C. Vo

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:38:08 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing Information

In August 2017, one item (the curtain backdrop from Jesusa Rodríguez's play, Donna Giovanni) was prepared for relocation to offsite art storage in September 2017.

The collection was processed in 2019. Paper materials were housed in archival folders and boxes. Loose paper materials were placed in archival folders. The collection originally came with binders which functioned as scrapbooks. These were deconstructed and foldered into numbered folders in order to retain original order. Original folder titles were retained and elaborated upon where necessary (i.e. with "miscellaneous" folders).

Series were created according to the natural intellectual arrangement of the collection. Material that belonged together intellectually was brought together physically. Paper material for each series was brought together physically, with oversized paper materials and physical digital media housed as appropriate. Separation sheets were created for physical digital media to sustain the intellectual relationship between items. Separation sheets were not created for the oversized paper materials, as they were originally loose, and intellectually part of the same series.

Optical discs were forensically imaged, analyzed, and described. New York University Libraries follow professional standards and best practices when imaging, ingesting, and processing born-digital material in order to maintain the integrity and authenticity of the content.

In October 2022, an accretion of materials was rehoused in archival boxes and folders, maintaining its order and intellectually added to the collection as a new series (Series IV. 2022 Accretion).

Revisions to this Guide

August 2017: Updated by Megan O'Shea to incorporate artwork being sent to offsite art storage in September 2017.
February 2019: Updated by Amy C. Vo following processing of the collection
October 2022: Updated by Rachel Searcy to reflect 2022 accretion


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
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New York, NY 10012