First Professional Latino Theater Company to Perform at Southwestern
By: Devon Bradley
At the end of the day, what are we really searching and striving for? Is it that good grade on the paper you just turned in or the exam you just took? Is it for the money to appear in your wallet to buy that new video game? The meaning of life or inherent truth? If you are looking for any of these, consider searching for Aztlán.
The Diversity Enrichment Committee (DEC) is proud to present Searching for Aztlán, a Spanish and English bilingual play by renowned playwright Lakin Valdez. The play will be performed by a professional Latino theater company Teatro Milagro in the Jones Theatre in the Alma Thomas Fine Arts Center at 7:30 P.M.
The play, inspired by real events, recounts a metaphoric “yellow brick road” upon which Latino educators embark on to reconnect with their indigenous heritage. Searching for Aztlan builds its premise around the 2012 instance when the Tuscon School Board suspended the Mexican-American Studies (MAS) programs in place. The board cited that the programs violated state law HB 2281 specifically banning classes that encouraged “racial resentment,” the overthrow of the U.S. government, or ethnic solidarity.
Reminiscent of the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, jobless teacher Dolores Huelga is caught in a dust storm and transported to an alternate reality. After finding herself left in the desert, Dolores sets out on a quest to search for the famed city of Aztlán, the ancestral home of the Aztec and by extension modern Chicanos. Joined on her journey for truth, justice, and the “indigenous way” by dispossessed exiles quirky High-Spanic, militant Super-Chicano, and a working class Latina immigrant, she discovers along the way what it means to be Chicano.
Kathleen Juhl, co-chair of the DEC and Professor of Theatre, serves as the public liaison for the event and encourages all Southwestern students to attend.
“There has never been a professional Latino theater company that has performed at Southwestern University in the 29 years I’ve been here. This is a big milestone,” Juhl said. “We want this event to foreground the 22% of SU Students who are Latinx. It’s just important to have speakers of color. To have a company that does a bilingual show to me is exciting.”
Founded in 1985, Teatro Milagro is a unique company that provides extraordinary Latino theatre, culture and arts education experiences for the enrichment of all communities. Teatro Milagro features cutting edge plays infused with elements of Latinx culture and the Spanish language which helps foster cultural appreciation and advance participation in the arts. They reached out to Southwestern in order to complement their performance at the University of Texas at Austin on November 18.
Playwright Lakin Valdez from Teatro Campesino (“farmworkers’ theatre”), a company founded by his father Luis Valdez. Teatro Campesino was founded by Luis Valdez with the support of Cesar Chavez and began as the cultural sector for the United Farm Workers Union. The company’s primary focus was to entertain the farmworkers while also raising awareness for the American people and Mexican workers on the controversies of the Delano grape strike. The strike began in 1965 when workers walked off farms, demanding their wages be equal to the federal minimum wage. An example of theatre for social justice, the company became a catalyst for the public awareness of Chicano culture that extended beyond the fields.
Roughly 18% of the population of the United States, an estimate according to the most recent census, was made up of Hispanics and Latinxs. The largest minority population, these companies and performances give a voice and a platform for issues affecting the Latinx community. Searching for Aztlan gives the viewer both entertainment and enlightenment for free. So come out on Tuesday, November 17, for a journey that delves into what it means to be Chicano and to find out what Aztlán is all about.