"Theatre is Sacred"

Alicia Borrachero '90 appreciates the communion, not just the entertainment, in her chosen field.

by Robin L. Flanigan

Alicia Borrachero and Ben Temple

Alicia Borrachero ’90 with husband and co-star Ben Temple ’91 in the long-running Land of Fire (Tierra de Fuego).

Spanish actress Alicia Borrachero '90 had recently returned home to Madrid after touring with Land of Fire (Tierra del Fuego). The play, a docudrama from Argentine-born playwright Mario Diament, focuses on the conversations between an Israeli woman and the Palestinian man who committed a terrorist attack on a bus she’d been riding 22 years earlier.

Borrachero portrays that Israeli woman, and she was preparing to hit the road again in a couple of days. The play has shown in nearly 60 cities already—Paris is on the docket for November 2017—and with shows selling out, she is likely to continue traveling for some time.

But one night in particular has stuck with Borrachero, proving that no matter how many awards she has won (including Best Actress nods in Spain for her work in film, television, and theater) or fans she has earned (especially after becoming a lead on the TV series Periodistas), she is doing important work because it can change people’s lives.

In the audience, the actors had been told ahead of time, were victims of terrorism, parents who’d lost children in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and terrorists themselves. And each of them wanted to talk about the play—with the actors and each other—afterward.

“It was breathtaking,” Borrachero recalls of the post-show gathering at a cafe, where the group sat until they were asked to leave at 2 a.m.

“I have suffered like every artist suffers,” she continues. “It can be very painful and difficult, but that day I thought, ‘This is why I became an actress. This is what makes sense, what gives acting a place in this world.’ When there is communion and deep connection, not just entertainment, it can be truly healing and transformative.”

Borrachero was 18 when she became convinced she needed a proper theater education. Though her English “wasn’t so good,” she looked up to Meryl Streep and Glenn Close and concluded she should attend acting school in the U.S.

Family friends living in Rochester talked up Nazareth College and offered to let her stay with them until she got settled. Borrachero took them up on it, moving to campus her second semester and ultimately graduating with a theater arts degree. She says she is particularly grateful to Dr. Tina Pereda, Lindsay Reading Korth, and Phillip Hickox for their guidance.

Ultimately, she would make a name for herself on Periodistas.

“It changed my life because I started to be able to live off my work,” she says of the show, which lasted five years and ended in 2002. At the time she was attending the Juan Carlos Corazza Actors Studio in Madrid, along with classmate and Spanish actor Javier Bardem.

Borrachero’s main source of work over the years has been on television. Currently, she is preparing to start a series about the war between Spain and Morocco in the early 1920s.

Film credits include Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (she played Queen Prunaprismia) and, most recently, The Promise from screenwriter and director Terry George about the Armenian genocide.

Barroachero says she is “very picky” about the plays she involves herself in, because “theater is sacred.” In Land of Fire, for example, in which she co-stars with husband Ben Temple ’91, an actor and director, she gets the opportunity to move beyond her character’s identity to a place that investigates the nature of forgiveness and understanding.

“It’s not so important the way the character looks, the way she dresses,” concludes Borrachero. “It’s about the search more than the fight. She’s trying to answer questions that have no answer.”

Robin L. Flanigan is a writer in Rochester, New York.

Alicia Borrachero wins best actress award in 2018 in Spain

UPDATE: Alicia Borrachero won the best actress award at the Ercilla de Teatro y Toros Awards in Spain in March 2018.