Special Performances

Olga Loya as Juana Briones

In a dramatic and historically accurate monologue and dialogue with the audience, Olga Loya uses her spellbinding storytelling skills to bring Juana Briones to life. Juana Briones was a rancher, businesswoman, landowner, and humanitarian, who lived from 1802 to 1889. You'll be astonished by her many acts of daring, including getting a separation from her husband and taking her fight to save her land all the way to the Supreme Court.

Olga Loya presents Juana Briones in three different forms:

CHAUTAUQUA: Juana is presented in Chautauqua form for older children and adults. The Chautauqua form is 20 minutes as Juana, then answering questions in the role of Juana, and then answering questions as a scholar.

ONE-WOMAN SHOW: A 40 to 50-minute show presenting Juana Briones with a myriad of different anecdotes from her time in the 1800s. After the show, Q and A.

CHILDREN'S SHOW: A 30-minute show. Olga reveals details of Juana's life with her family and what life was like on the ranch. A morning song is taught as part of this program.



“The tale of the Bay Area's beloved Juana Briones came to life tonight. Recalling the hardships of early California as performance artist, Olga Loya, explored the facets of this remarkable woman. As Loya presented Juana Briones, we went with her to the 1800's and her life”
Palo Alto Daily News

“Her Juana Briones program is a fun and educational experience that enlivens the children's interest in the past, and creates pride in our Hispanic roots as Californians.”
Gary Dalton, Principal, Juana Briones Elementary School, Palo Alto, CA

“Thank you for your oral monologue on the life of Juana Briones of the 29th Century at our national Hispanic University Distinguished Speakers Series on Homenaje a la Mujer Past, Present and Future. Your enactment of this powerful woman served to reinforce a positive self-image, a heightened self-confidence, and increased motivation to succeed among the high school and college Latinas student participants.”
Betty Martinez, Adelante Mujer Haspana SV Planning Committee, Chairperson

“On behalf of the Napa Valley Museum, I would like to thank you very much for helping us out with a chautauqua performance. As you already know, everyone truly enjoyed the program, and I am still hearing many compliments about it.”
Evangeline Tai, Curator of Education, Napa Valley Museum

Juana Briones, told by Olga Loya; Santa Theresa Ranch, San Jose, CA

Nepantla (Between Worlds); Phoenix, AZ

1. Olga's personal story (45-minute show)
Mexican? American? Chicana? Latina? Olga Loya's personal story tells about searching for a cultural home and along the way struggling with racism, bad cultural esteem, drugs, gangs and defeatist advice. Along this same path are people who help Olga find her way to herself and her culture as a Latina, Chicana, Mexican-American. In this theater piece, Olga uses humor, dancing and music, wit and a fierce honesty to give the audience a chance to look at themselves in a whole new way.


2. Physical Nepanatla - Olga also performs Nepantla as an exploration of life between worlds in her grandparent's story of crossing the borders from Mexico into Texas to save their lives, only to discover that they can never go home again.

3. Between fondness and remembrance Nepantla -
Olga performs a monologue of the Nepantla between fondness and remembrance - a story about a mother who takes in the boy who killed her son and how it changes both their lives of their lives.


“Olga Loya's lyricism is expressed equally in words and movement. She has a magical ability to manipulate focus, zooming her audience in for quiet moments and then snapping back to a wide angle shot for a joyful dance.”
Nepantla, Theatre/performances review, Mark Szewczk, Nuvo Review

“Olga's story spoke directly to issues our students and community grapple with everyday. Nepantla tapes both the jobs of and sorrows of identifying!”
Liz Warren, South Mountain College Storytelling Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

“Olga Loya's “Nepantla” touched our students on at least three different levels - their hearts, their brains and their souls. I know they will remember this show for years to come, as will I.”
Caren S. Neile, P. D., Florida Atlantic University

“Olga's piece, Nepantla, was at once a moving memoir and a kind of living history lesson. It brought shivers, and of course, belly laughs too, because that is Olga. Olga Loya is a wonderful storyteller. She effortlessly weaves together English and her native Spanish while telling tales that can read a wide range of ages and speakers of both languages.”
Donna M. Berkeley CA

The Aztec Creation, told by Olga Loya; Bethlehem, Indiana

Listen to the beating drums and the sounds of rattles, and hear the stories of the Aztec creation of the world - the sun and moon, death, music, corn, as well as stories of lust, envy and a most incredible birth. [This can be 90 minutes or a shorter program.]


“Gradually the story moved from being just about the gods to being about their interactions with humans - about love and lust and war and peace, about birth and death and regeneration. “Good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong” became irrelevant. The story was about the inevitable cycles of order and chaos. Through Loya's telling and our listening, we saw the history of the world in great, timeless sweeps, rather than just our own, singular deaths.”
Hope Baugh's Blog

Storytelling in Museums

Olga Loya studies an art show and then performs the stories that compliment some of the art pieces. Story treasure maps are part of the show art piece that goes with the story.

Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)


This show always starts out with the story about the history of the Day of the Dead and always ends with a family story called the Altar. The Altar is a true story about my daughter and I putting up an altar for my mother, who died on the Day of the Dead. It is a story about discovering the power of ceremony, grieving, and joy. The middle of the show is a combination of trickster, love, and ghost stories, showing the sad, scary, funny, and ridiculous side of life and death.

I sometimes install an altar as part of the show with many calacas (skull toys), candles, flowers, photographs, among other articles.

If there is time at the end of the show, I often like to do one or all of the following: (l) Ask the audience if they know of an individual or an animal that has died. Then ask them to tell a fond remembrance of the person or animal to another person in the group. (2) I like to ask everyone to think about three things they would like to have on their alter. The Día de Los Muertos program offers the audience a chance to look at life and death in a more personal way.



“On behalf of El Central Chicano, I would like to thank you for the extraordinary storytelling you shared with us at our Día de Los Muertos celebration. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talents with us.”
Christina Gonzalez, Program Coordinator, El Centro Chicano, Stanford University

“During your storytelling session at our Day of the Dead Ceremony, I carefully observed the faces of the adults and children in the audience. I recognized in their faces that special joy that comes from connecting with one's memories and fantasies.”
Maribel Alvarez, Executive Director, San Jose Center for Latino Arts

Keynote Speeches

Olga Loya combines stories to fit the theme, as well as her life and teaching experience, to share motivational speeches. Some possible themes are:

  • Multiculturalism
  • Diversity and storytelling
  • The oral tradition
  • Storytelling and literacy
  • Storytelling as a healing tool
  • Exploring cultures through storytelling
  • The oral tradition and storytelling
  • Storytelling and abuse
  • Storytelling and bilingualism


“If only we could all have the ability to create the electricity of communication that you possess.”
Pamela Moore, San Jose State University

“Olga Loya's presentation was sensitive to the needs of the audience and appropriate to the focus of the workshop. She wove personal stories into her talk, illustrating the power of the arts in teaching diverse traditions. Her sincerity and skills as a speaker were impressive and empowering.”
Sandra Sterrenberg, Arts-in-Schools Coordinator, Trintity County Office of Education

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