Theater note: Four plays examine Latino identity

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Welcoming the audience at the Political Theatre Festival, Teatro del Pueblo artistic director Alberto Justiniano invited us to “embark on a journey of exploration.” He also encouraged each person to open his or her mind and appreciate other perspectives. What followed in Series B of the Festival were four short plays, each one conveying a unique perspective on Latino history, culture and identity.

The Political Theatre Festival is presented by Teatro del Pueblo, Intermedia Arts, the Resource Center of the Americas, and the University of Minnesota through March 2 at Intermedia Arts, 2822 S. Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis. For tickets ($15), see intermediaarts.org.


In Kimberly del Busto’s Hurricane in a Glass, a daughter and granddaughter are brought together as they make a difficult decision regarding their grandmother’s—their abuela‘s—long-term care. Deciding to move Abuela to a nursing home was relatively straightforward. More troubling for the three generations of Cuban-American women, however, was the matter of preserving their cultural heritage. They ponder whether they can “remember to forget, or forget to remember?”

Also on the Daily Planet, read Jonah Winn-Lenetsky on the Political Theatre Festival.

The second in the series, The Great All-Dominican Championship Playoff Game by Robin Rice Lichtig, dramatizes “the true story of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and his exploitation of a national obsession and young baseball rookie Satchel Paige,” as the program puts it. Racism in the U.S. forced Paige into an equally racist but more economically beneficial situation in the Dominican Republic, where his life ultimately depended on winning a baseball game.

In Eric Silva Brenneman’s Variations on Mixed Generations, three second-generation American Latinos are faced with difficult questions of idenity when they meet for lunch. The scene is replayed over and over, and each time their reactions are different—ranging from shock to indignation.

The last play, Mucho Latino by Dominic Orlando, uses the format of an interactive game show format to examine the concept of Latino stereotypes. However, as the audience was invited into the performance, the subject expanded to a conversation about the larger issue of identity. The audience was at first reluctant to participate—perhaps not realizing that their input was expected—but eventually there was a lively discussion on the overarching theme of personal identity.

The Political Theater Festival, as described in the program, is a place “where theatre becomes the cornerstone for social and political discourse on issues directly affecting Latin America.” The plays in Series B presented provocative situations. There were no solutions offered. We in the audience were left to provide our own answers, to ask additional questions, and to have our own political debate.

Jennifer Holder (jyholder@msn.com) contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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