Introducing Teatro Project at UC Berkeley: ATHE Conference, Luis Valdez visits Cal, and reception at La Peña September 13, 5-7pm

Intimate Acts: Banned Play Readings, Sat Jul 26, 2014, 8:30-10:30pm, Sonaran Room
Starring: (from left) Sharee Rivera, Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete, Samanta Cubias, 
Jennifer Covarrubias, Martha Herrera-Lasso, Adrian Ramos, Natalie Sánchez, Alex Bonte
Photo by Angela Marino
Teatro Project at UC Berkeley is a growing group of artists that developed from a vision brought on by Professor and Advisor Angela Marino and her Tearo students in the Theater, Dance and Performance Studies Department. Recently, with the help of five Cal alumni, two current Cal students, and a PhD candidate -- Teatro Project at UC Berkeley performed at the Association for Theater in Higher Education (ATHE) 2014 Conference entitled Dream Acts: Performance as Refuge, Resistance, and Renewal -- a conference that took place from July 24-27, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Teatro Project was invited to be part of Intimate Acts: Banned Play Readings - Saturday, July 26, 8:30-10:30 pm. The performance was received with energy and positive feedback.

Teatro read a fifteen minute excerpt of Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez. Samanta Cubias and I co-directed and edited the reading. This is our second project together. Teatro performers included Sharee Rivera, Natalie Sánchez, Martha Herrera-Lasso, Adrian Ramos, Jennifer  Covarrubias and Alex Bonte. We were thrown into the zooter's world, and talked in length about what it must have been like to live and be brown in those days. Martha Herrera-Lasso helped guide us through this as both our Pachuca and Dramaturgy.

It's the 1940s zoot suiters strutted the streets of downtown Los Angeles with their daring and vibrant suits. Though some people found the zoot suit an affront to traditional American principles and culture, the zooter kept on challenging the norms. The zooter found that their identity was best described by the clothes they wore; they were "Americans" and they were also individuals. As a group, they were blanketed under the title of troublemakers and despised by traditionalists on both the Mexican-American and "American" sides. Often, they were stigmatized for not being "Mexican" nor "American" enough. And this is just one layer of what later helped fuel The Zoot Suit Riots.

Enter the play written by Luis Valdez, Zoot Suits. The play con sus pachucos and pachucas that bring the Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial back to our generation through the stage. And we stood before scholars and performers reading the lines and saying the words of those who came before us. In a few minutes of bringing the trial to the stage, the room became tense and heavy. I played the judge, Sami the press -- Alex, Natalie and Jennifer were sailors spouting derogatory words at one point. The audience moved about uncomfortably, grunting, and talking at us from their seats as if they were in the courtroom. They reacted to the unfair deliberation of the jury; guilty of murder. Wounds of injustice, social profiling, immigrant traumas -- obviously still relevant in our times -- brought out sentiments shared with those in the room of artists. The last few lines of the play allowed us to express our view, "Henry Reyna -- our son," for we wanted to desperately show how this problem is still relevant to us and, quite possibly still, our children.

I couldn't be more proud to have been one of the directors on this project. I had an amazing experience with each and every person on this trip. We taught each other, and we worked with heavy topics that is still encouraging discussions in our gatherings today.

Join us on September 13, 2014 from 5-7pm at La Peña Cultural Center, as we talk about the ATHE Arizona experience, and share the plans for this upcoming year with Teatro Project and Performance Colectiva. Cal students, faculty, staff, community and artists are encouraged to attend. Do you have a play you want to test out? Do you want to do a workshop with some Teatro folks? Maybe you want to do a performance exchange? Join this event and learn how you can work and/or be part of Teatro.

 Reception Invitation