research and write about it

This week we are looking at an overview of Latino Theatre and the stories of this culturally diverse group from many different parts of the world. You have watched the lecture session with Luis Valdez as he discussed his own path to his career in the Theatre and how the power of storytelling helped pull him from the life he may have lived or was expected to live. What is amazing to me about his journey is his conversation about the power of Art and how his Art shaped his politics and his politics shaped his Art. His work in the last 40 years has been tremendous in furthering Mexican or Chicano culture making huge strides with people like Cesar Chavez and other Chicano leaders in breaking down discrimination with all so called Latino cultures and the racism that was the norm in that day.

The term Latino from the Websters is:

La·ti·no – noun lÉ™-ˈtÄ“-(ËŒ)nō

: a person who was born or lives in South America, Central America, or Mexico or a person in the U.S. whose family is originally from South America, Central America, or Mexico

This title covers a wide rages of cultures, social identities, foods and regional places where this wide and dynamic demographic lives. Mexican, Cuban, Spanish, Puerto Rico, Central American countries and South American countries all can fall under this very general covering of Latino. This terms does no real justice to the description and understanding of what the true nature of Latino Theatre is. In fact there is an on going debate if the term really is the best one to describe the vast array of cultures and difference that society generally ascribes to this label. Of course even the use of the label LATINO insights debate as some feel it could be a marginalizing term. You heard Luis Valdez express his own angst and problems with the “Latino” label. It would be hard to put Latino Theatre into a single definition since there are so many different people groups, struggles, triumphs, tragedies and histories that can be told in this genre.

Latino Theatre deals with many of the general issues that we have discussed with other topics that the theatre deals with crime, poverty, immigration, the limited social ladder, racism, religion and paternal culture pressures that cause a great deal of angst for the children of immigrants who are looking to assimilate into a modern American society.

Here is Southern California we have a particular relationship with Latino culture and how we see this played out in politics and local governance. In southern California we see Chicano Theatre that is more specifically from the Mexican heritage and a Mexican P.O.V. This makes sense since California has such a symbiotic relationship with our bordering nation Mexico. We see the on going battles for driver’s licenses, fair pay, immigration status, poverty, and a farming and service culture that tends have a second class citizen kind of P.O.V. wrapped up around it. Just look at the recent movie about Cesar Chaves and his life in central California in the 60’s fighting for immigrant rights. That fight continues in many ways today not only in the growing fields of the great state of California, but in the hotels and motels, the lawns and gardens, the restaurants and service jobs where our hard working Latino friends are working long hours and deserve to be treated just as well as anyone else for the work they do. You have seen recently in the news about large groups of children from numerous Central American countries fleeing their homes to seek out lives here in the U.S. as nearby as Murrieta Ca. We see mixtures of xenophobia, political positioning, declarations from our new president elect of building a huge wall on the border and questions about health concerns coming into the larger debate from those that are not as convinced about immigration and its effective enforcement. The issues facing our nation and the individuals trying to access the prosperity and security of our nation is an ongoing struggle and so many of these stories have yet to be told.

Your assignment is in three parts but two pages long:

1. The Theatre Review

A. I would like you to research a major newspaper from a major city and find a professional Theatre review for. The review should be on a production of your choosing by a Latino/a Playwright. Dealing with topics that would be important to one of our various and divers Latino communities.

B. It can be a period or present day play.

C. The review should be no more than five years old.

D. Please copy and paste the review you choose into the assignment with citation.

E. Write a 1 page reaction to this review and the play.

– A brief biography of the playwright and why they wrote the play (you may need to do some follow up research about the playwright)

– What are the Issues that this playwright is trying to raise?

– Did the reviewer feel as though this was strong production and that the messages were conveyed?

– Would you watch this play or any other play from this Playwright? Why or why Not?

2. Watch Your Movie Choice

A. Choose a film to watch that was written OR directed by a Latino/a. (This can certainly be a Luis Valdez film)

B. This film should also have the protagonist be a “Latino” man or woman .

D. Be sure to choose a movie that wrestles in some way with a topic(s) related to “Latino” cultural and societal topics.

3. Write a Review for your film.

A. With the review that you researched as a template, write a 1 page review for your chosen film.

B. Give us your opinion of the acting and storytelling in the manner that you read other reviewers analyzing the play’s that they watched.

C. Discuss the relevant “Latino” issues that were raised by the film, its writer and character(s)

D. Was the filmmaker, writer and actors successful? Why or why not?


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