"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Recent Books on Chicano(a) Theatre, Stage, and Performance

Recent Chicana(o) Theatre, Stage, and Performance

Again, drama is one of those genres that doesn't produce a whole lot of books, with exception of the stage publications. So I'm going back six years in in this post in case there is something you missed. If we missed something, let us know.

Before, we show you the books, make sure to download a copy of our new issue of Pluma Fronteriza with lot of news on El Paso, Juarense, and Cruceno writers including Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Carlos Morton, Benjamin A. Saenz, Rich Yanez, and more. Download it for free at: Download Pluma Fronteriza.

(Chicana & Chicano Visions of the Americas Series)
HardcoverUniversity of Oklahoma Press 2004
ISBN-10: 080613626X

This innovative collection, featuring three plays by Carlos Morton, spans five centuries of Mexican and Mexican American history. In the tradition of teatro campesino, these plays present provocative revisions of historical events.

The first play, "La Malinche," challenges the historical record of the tragic clash between Indians and Spaniards. The near-mythical La Malinche, who betrayed her country for love of Hernan Cortez but was then betrayed by him, is freed from the bonds of history to have her vengeance. She saves her legacy and destroys the legacy of the conquistador. In the second play, "Dreaming on a Sunday in the Alameda," characters from a mural by painter Diego Rivera come to life to depict four centuries of Mexican history. 
Among these, Frida Kahlo, Rivera’s wife, finally steps out of his shadow as a woman and artist in her own right. "Esperanza," a libretto for an opera, tells the story of Mexican miners who labored in twentieth-century Silver City, New Mexico. Based on the classic movie Salt of the Earth, this play deftly portrays the crisis that foretold the rise of the Chicano movement.

Carlos Morton is director of the Center for Chicano Studies and Professor of Dramatic Art at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Paperback Arte Publico Press; Bilingual edition 2004
Language: Spanish / English
ISBN-10: 1558854398
Luis Valdez (Author), Edna Ochoa (Translator), Jorge Huerta (Introduction)

This bilingual edition combines the original English-language version with the first-ever Spanish translation of the critically acclaimed play by Luis Valdez, a work that cracked open the depiction of Chicanos on the stage, challenging viewers to revisit a troubled moment in our nation’s history. From the moment the myth-infused character El Pachuco burst onto the stage, literally cutting his way through the drop curtain with a switchblade, Valdez spurred a revolution in Chicano theater. 
Focusing on the events surrounding the Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial of 1942 and the ensuing Zoot Suit Riots that turned Los Angeles into a bloody war zone, this is a gritty and vivid depiction of the horrifying violence and racism suffered by young Mexican Americans on the home front during World War II. Valdez’s cadre of young urban characters struggle with the stereotypes and generalizations of America’s dominant culture, the questions of assimilation and patriotism, and a desire to rebel against the mainstream pressures that threaten to wipe them out.

Experimenting with brash forms of narration, pop culture of the war era, and complex characterizations, this quintessential exploration of the Mexican-American experience in the United States during the 1940s was the first, and only, Chicano play to open on Broadway.

Mummified Deer And Other Plays
Paperback Arte Publico Press April 30, 2005
ISBN-10: 1558854177
Luis Valdez (Author), Jorge Huerta (Introduction)

For more than 20 years, Luis Valdez, the most distinguished Latino playwright and director, has reserved most of his scripts for live stage productions. His two landmark published collections, Early Works and Zoot Suit and Other Plays, are only a sampling of his early master works and of the later plays that made it to the stage in the 1980s. Now, Valdez has finally opened his trunk to release print editions of revised early works and a brand new, major drama.
"Mummified Deer" is Valdez’s mature exploration of the Yaqui Indian roots of Chicano(a)  culture and Valdez’s own family. Returning to the format of the tent show, Valdez mines maternal psychology and Yaqui mysticism to demand that characters scale the full gamut of emotions. In this gut-wrenching piece, Mama Chu is the dominant, imposing figure who must reconcile the present with the past and unify the conflicting histories and identities of her family.

Mundo Mata is the long-awaited drama of unionizing farm workers battling the agribusiness power structure in California while Mexican Americans are being sent off to battle brown-skinned enemies in Vietnam. Valdez assesses the toll that families have to pay to remain united against divisive forces. It all comes down to Reymundo, the antihero, who in the end must weigh existential and political questions.

“The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa,” Valdez’s re-worked first play, still holds all the vision, spunk, and innovation of the young playwright. Injecting black humor into domestic drama, disembodied heads talk, mothers exchange roles with the patriarch, Pachucos banter, and Sell-Outs become the mouthpieces for an oppressed community — all characters and themes that would dominate future plays of Valdez and subsequent Chicano literature.

Paperback Broadway Play Pub 2006
ISBN-10: 0881452580
Octavio Solis (Author)

This collection contains three full-length plays: “Santos & Santos,” “El Paso Blue” and “El Otro”: “Solis’ dark, rapturous look at the immigrant experience is not s o m e t h i n g y o u ’ l l e a s i l y f o r g e t .

remember that Broadway Press published two of

Octavio Solís’ play in trade editions: “La Posada

Mágica” and “Man of the Flesh.”

Psst . . .: I Have Something to Tell You, Mi Amor
Paperback Wings Press 2005
ISBN-10: 0916727203
Ana Castillo

Comprised of both a one-act and a two-act play, this powerful dramatic pairing centers on Sister Dianna Ortiz, who was kidnapped, raped, and tortured by U.S.-sponsored Guatemalan security forces in 1989 (see Raymundo Eli Rojas' review of this book). "Castillo’s displays of emotion and experience are legitimately heavy with truthfulness. It jolts readers with a blast of reality. Other books written on Ortiz’ story were not the best put-together works. Her story is a good one and she found a writer who can best tell it in Castillo." -- Raymundo Eli Rojas, The Newspaper Tree

Paperback Arte Publico Press 2008
ISBN-10: 1558855114
Stephanie Fetta (Editor)

"David is mine!" Mrs. Renteria shouts out to her neighbors gathered about the dead but handsome young man found in the dry riverbed next to their homes in a Los Angeles barrio. "David?" Tiburcio asked. "Since when is his name David? He looks to me more like a ..." Tiburcio glanced at the man's face, "... a Luis." Mrs. Renteria's neighbors call out a litany of names that better suit the mysterious corpse: Roberto, Antonio, Henry, Enrique, Miguel, Roy, Rafael. The very first winner of the Chicano / Latino Literary Prize in 1974, Ron Arias' "The Wetback" uses dark humor to reflect on the appearance of a dead brown man in their midst.
This landmark collection of prize-winning fiction, poetry, and drama paints a historical and aesthetic panorama of Chicana/o and Latina/o letters over a twenty-five-year period beginning in 1974 and ending in 1999. Most, but not all, of the winning entries are featured in this anthology, which also includes second- and third-place winners, as well as honorable mentions.

Now entering its thirty-first year, the award has recognized a wide variety of writers, from established ones such as Juan Felipe Herrera, Michael Nava, and Helena Maria Viramontes, to those that are lesser known. Many of the pieces in this anthology are considered to be foundational texts of Chicana/o and Latina/o literature, and those that are not as widely recognized deserve more serious study and attention.

Presented in chronological order, the selected writings are primarily in English, although some are written in Spanish, and others in Spanglish. Some, like Francisco X. Alarcon's poem "Raices / Roots," appear in both languages: "Mis raices / las cargo / siempre / conmigo / enrolladas / me sirven / de almohada." "I carry / my roots / with me / all the time / rolled up / I use them / as my pillow." 

In addition to the diverse array of authors, styles, and genres, the works included in this collection cover a wide range of themes, from more political issues of ethnic, gender, and class conflicts to the universal themes of love, death, and birth.

(Theater in the Americas Series) Paperback Southern Illinois University Press
ISBN-13: 978-0809328307
Jon D. Rossini

In Contemporary Latina/o Theater, Jon D. Rossini explores the complex relationship between theater and the creation of ethnicity in an unprecedented examination of six Latina/o and Chicano(a) playwrights and their works: Miguel Piñero, Luis Valdez, Guillermo Reyes, Octavio Solis, José Rivera, and Cherríe Moraga. 
Rossini exposes how these writers use the genre as a tool to reveal and transform existing preconceptions about their culture.  Through “wrighting” — the triplicate process of writing plays, righting misconceptions about ethnic identity, and creating an entirely new way of understanding Latina/o and Chicano(a) culture — these playwrights directly intervene in current conversations regarding ethnic identity, providing the tools for audiences to reexplore their previously held perspectives outside the theater.

Examining these writers and their works in both cultural and historical contexts, Rossini reveals how playwrights use the liminal space of the stage — an area on the thresholds of both theory and reality — to “wright” new insights into Latina/o and Chicano(a) identity.  They use the limits of the theater itself to offer practical explorations of issues that could otherwise be discussed only in highly theoretical terms.

Rossini traces playwrights’ methods as they address some of the most challenging issues facing contemporary Latinas/os in America: from the struggles for ethnic solidarity and the dangers of a community based in fear, to stereotypes of Latino masculinity and the problematic fusion of ethnicity and politics.  Rossini discusses the looming specter of the border in theater, both as a conceptual device and as a literal reality — a crucial subject for modern Latinas/os, given recent legislation and other actions.   Throughout, the author draws intriguing comparisons to the cultural limbo in which many Latinas/os find themselves today. 

An indispensable volume for anyone interested in drama and ethnic studies, Contemporary Latina/o Theater underscores the power of theatricality in exploring and rethinking ethnicity.  Rossini provides the most in-depth analysis of these plays to date, offering a groundbreaking look at the ability of playwrights to correct misconceptions and create fresh perspectives on diversity, culture, and identity in Latina/o America.

(Chicana Matters Series) Paperback University of Texas Press 2008
ISBN-10: 029271744X
Laura E. Garcia (Editor), Sandra M. Gutierrez (Editor), Felicitas Nuñez (Editor), Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez (Foreword)

The 1970s and 1980s saw the awakening of social awareness and political activism in Chicano(a) communities. In San Diego, a group of Chicana women participated in a political theatre group whose plays addressed social, gender, and political issues of the working class and the Chicano Movement. 
In this collective memoir, seventeen women who were a part of Teatro de las Chicanas (later known as Teatro Laboral and Teatro Raíces) come together to share why they joined the theatre and how it transformed their lives. 

Teatro Chicana tells the story of this troupe through chapters featuring the history and present-day story of each of the main actors and writers, as well as excerpts from the group's materials and seven of their original short scripts.

(Modern American Literature Series) Hardcover Peter Lang; First printing edition 2009
ISBN-10: 0820474290
Garland Leah

Contemporary Latina/o Performing Arts of Moraga, Tropicana, Fusco, and Bustamante demonstrates the crucial significance of looking at theatrical performance for rethinking critical inquiry.

Leah Garland closely analyzes the theoretical tools with which prominent theater artists Cherrie Moraga, Carmelita Tropicana, Coco Fusco, and Não Bustamantechallenge neocolonial parameters for self-examination. Garland shows how the self-affirmative maneuvers that these artists deploy reconceptualize the subject in literary theory.

(Louann Atkins Temple Women & Culture Series) 
Paperback University of Texas Press 2008
ISBN-10: 0292718551
Coleman A. Jennings (Editor)

In today's multicultural world there is an urgent need for more plays and books that represent a diverse array of ethnic groups. Theatre and book critics, scholars, and theatre professionals have long campaigned for a broader representation of minorities in book and play publishing.
In this anthology, renowned theatre expert Coleman A. Jennings has compiled a selection of plays by José Cruz González that meets these multicultural demands head-on. 
González is a foremost voice in theatre for children and youth whose plays address themes, often through imaginary lands and extraordinary characters, faced by children in their everyday lives.

Born to migrant workers in Calexico, California, in 1957, González learned at a young age how to tap into the vast world of his imagination. From his grandfather, who would regale the family with stories and riddles as they worked on the farm, he learned the power of storytelling. He spent afternoons, weekends, and summers working in the fields, so it is no surprise that his plays are strongly tied to the natural world. His use of magical realism has become one of his trademarks.

The nine plays in this anthology were thoughtfully collected and will go far to fill the multicultural gap in the world of theatre for children.

Paperback University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition 2007
ISBN-10: 0299224546
Josefina Niggli (Author, Editor), William Orchard (Editor)

Josefina Niggli (1910–1983) was one of the most successful Mexican American writers of the early twentieth century. Born of European parents and raised in Mexico, she spent most of her adult life in the United States, and in her plays and novels she aimed to portray authentic Mexican experiences for English-speaking audiences. 

Niggli crossed borders, cultures, and genres, and her life and work prompt interesting questions about race, class, gender, modernity, ethnic and national identity, and the formation of literary canons.

Although Niggli is perhaps best known for her fiction and folk plays, this anthology recovers her historical dramas, most of which have been long out of print or were never published. These plays are deeply concerned with the aftermath of the 1910 Mexican Revolution, imagining its implications for Mexico, Mexican Americans, and U.S.-Mexico relations. Included are "Mexican Silhouettes" (1928), "Singing Valley" (1936), "The Cry of Dolores" (1936), "The Fair God" (1936), "Soldadera" (1938), "This is Villa!" (1939), and "The Ring of General Macias" (1943). 

These works reflect on the making of history and often portray the Revolution through the lens of women’s experiences.

Also included in this volume are an extensive critical introduction to Niggli, a chronology of her life and writings, plus letters and reviews by, to, and about Josefina Niggli. that provide illuminating context for the plays.

Paperback University of New Mexico Press 2007
ISBN-10: 0826342728
Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez

This is the story of a remarkable woman whose artistic mission was to relate Mexican cultural history to English-language readers. A world-renowned playwright in the 1930s and best-selling novelist in the 1940s, Josefina Niggli published at a time when Chicana/o literature was not yet recognized as such. Her works revealed Mexico from an insider's point of view, although she found herself struggling with publishers who wanted an American hero pitted against a Mexican villain.
Niggli's life experience transpired in Mexico, Texas, the East Coast in the pre-World War II years, and North Carolina, with jaunts to Hollywood and to England, all in an era when few U.S. women writers were able to publish. 

Only recently has Niggli received critical attention as scholars of Chicana/o literature recognize her as one of the earliest Mexican American writers to focus on life lived between two cultures and nations. This scholarly biography, which includes selections from some of Niggli's unrecognized writings, is designed to solidify her place in the literary canon.

"Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez's exceptional book, Josefina Niggli, Mexican-American Writer: A Critical Biography, is a magnificent contribution to the scholarly study of the life and works of the brilliant binational and transnational writer, Josefina Niggli. From poems to short stories and theatrical plays to novels, [Martinez] provides the reader with extensive and detailed biographical data interspersed with key selections of Niggli's lesser known or unpublished writings. Martinez's groundbreaking book will be a fundamental work for any future study undertaken on this Mexican American writer's creative production and on Chicana/o literature in general."-- Maria Herrera Sobek, author of Chicano Folklore: A Handbook (2006) and associate vice chancellor at the University of California, Santa Barbara

(Latino Voices Series) 
Paperback Northwestern University Press; 1 edition 2008
ISBN-10: 0810123401
Josefina Niggli (Author), Ilan Stavans (Foreword)

The first collection of the writings of one of the most influential Mexican-American authors of the 20th century
Born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico in 1910, Josefina María Niggli was one of the first Latina writers to have her work published in the United States -- and thus one of the first to introduce American audiences to the culture and people flourishing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Well ahead of what is now called Chicano literature, her writings -- spanning a broad range of genres, subjects, and styles  -- offer an insider's view of the everyday lives little known or noted outside of their native milieu. In Niggli's plays, for instance, these often invisible working class Mexicans were literally elevated to the public stage, their hidden reality given expression.

A long-overdue gathering of Niggli's work, this volume showcases the writer's remarkable literary versatility, as well as the groundbreaking nature of her writing, which in many ways established a blueprint for future generations of writers and readers of Chicano literature. This collection includes Niggli's most famous and influential work, Mexican Village -- a literary chronicle of Hidalgo, Mexico, which explores the distinct nature and tensions of Mexican life -- along with her novel Step Down, Elder Brother, and five of her most well-known plays.

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