Seven Guitars Profile: Sophina Flores

When the lights go up for PassinArt’s forthcoming production of Seven Guitars, it will be lights Sophina Flores designed, illuminating a set that she helped build. 

Seven Guitars is Flores’ third production with PassinArt. She designed lights and built sets for A Song for Coretta, and worked as master electrician on Black Nativity.

“I’m really excited to be back working with Kristeen (Willis – designer) and Bill (Ray – director) again,” she said. “They are both amazing artists.”

Seven Guitars is Flores’ second play by August Wilson. She was assistant lighting designer for Gem of the Ocean – an immersive, generative orientation to the magical density of Wilson’s  poetic language.

“It’s precise, dense wording. The more you read it, the more you get out of it,

she said of his scripts.

“The goal is, what percentage of the meaning of this can we impart to the audience? How much of it can we impart, because they’re just seeing it once.”

One thing Flores swore she would never do is be self-employed, or work for a non-profit. It’s what her folks did. Seeing all that hard work turned her off. So, guess what happened? Flores is now self-employed as the founder of Roots and All Theatre Ensemble, a 501 c 3 non-profit.

Flores uses words like “devising” and “baking” to describe the collaborative process she employs to create her art. The company’s first, Liminal, a devised piece using songs, dance and music to engage children in the story of Africa diaspora forced by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, was performed last summer in collaboration with Portland Parks Department. 

She’s just wrapping up the grant cycle for Ritual Treatment, a bi-lingual script Flores wrote to help teens “dismantle what toxic relationships are,” she said. She wants to use theater in all its aspects to help expand understandings of sexual violence and partner abuse outside their usual cis, white, hetero depictions. She will be workshopping the script with theater, dance, and English students in area high schools this spring.

“I want to be making innovative, new work, work that has never been seen before,” she said. “And the opportunities aren’t going to be given to me. I have to make them.”