Big Brain Update: Marcelino Quiñonez

In preparation for this year's Big Brain awards, we're checking up with a few of last year's winners. Know an emerging creative who could use $1000? Nominate 'em right here before March 14.

Our Big Brain today: Marcelino Quiñonez.

It's officially March, and Marcelino Quiñonez is gearing up his classroom for AIMS testing.

This time last year, Quiñonez and his class were busy rehearsing for their latest production, but when the South Phoenix charter high school's drama program was cut this year, he was asked to teach English full-time.

Quiñonez is an avid actor and teacher -- he's played parts in James Garcia's Voices of Valor, produced a play called I don't Get Anything Out of School, coordinated the Artist Memorial for Immigrants, and taught drama for at-risk youth at New Carpa Theater.

At the beginning of the school year, Quiñonez says he was OK with not teaching theater classes -- he was drained and had a lot going on.

"I told the coordinator of the adult acting class I was teaching that I was done -- I couldn't teach any more," says Quiñonez. "I went to what was supposed to be my last class and when it was over, I realized that I needed to teach and share theater for my own sanity. I couldn't quit."

Quiñonez says the signing of SB1070 last April also made him re-evaluate: "I really thought about going to law school. I wanted to get involved ... and then I realized there's no reason to reinvent myself -- I love what I do and I have to be active through that."

Instead of law school, Quiñonez says he'll be going back to ASU for a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre and will hit the books (and the stage) with the class of 2014.

Of course school won't keep him out of the community spotlight -- Quiñonez will continue to teach his adult acting classes at Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday nights, he's currently directing a play by Jose Casas in April through Teatro Bravo, and he's starring in a local independent film, Straight Lines, slated to hit the silver screen this Spring.

Stay tuned for more for more Big Brain updates and nominate your own creatives right here.

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