Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Identity’ Category

Profile: Playwright Octavio Solis

Playwright Octavio Solis once said that he never wanted to do a Latino family drama. The stereotypes were too easily recognizable and the subjects would be too close to home. But the El Paso-born dramatist, long considered among the most prolific Chicano playwrights, has chosen the Latino home – or “ground zero” as he calls it – as the setting for his latest theatrical success titled “Lydia.”

Gloria Garayua and Elias Escobedo in Octavio Solis’ 'Lydia' at Marin Theater Company.

The play happens in the home of 15 year-old Cecilia Flores, whose is near comatose as a result of a car accident, and the undocumented caretaker who can mysteriously connect with her. Described as a combination of realism and lyricism, “Lydia” is Solis’ most intimate work to date. Already, it is being compared to the work of Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill and has propelled 50 year-old Solis onto the national spotlight.

“Lydia” has been presented in such venues as the Denver Center Theatre Company, Yale Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, and the Mark Taper Forum.

Reporter Emily Wilson has this profile.


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The Purépecha Communities

In Mexico, about 90 percent of the nation’s 110 million residents are monolingual Spanish-speakers. But there remain dozens of indigenous languages that have been spoken for centuries. Today, there are about 100,000 Purépecha speakers in Mexico. It’s not clear why, but the Spaniards called them the Tarascos, which comes from the word “tarasque” meaning father-in-law or brother-in-law in the Purépecha language. The Aztecs, at the height of their empire, called them the Michhuàquê in the Nahuatl language, meaning, “those that fish,” and giving rise to the name “Michoacán,” the region in Mexico were they continue to fish and farm and make a life in the fertile volcanic slopes.

Most Purépecha are bilingual, speaking Spanish in addition to their native language. And as indigenous people, they were often shunned by mainstream Mexican society that looked down on them and all native peoples. So they seem an unlikely group to migrate north. But many have called their Michoacán homeland in Central America the “Mexican dustbowl.” Deforestation has decimated many of their hills, and once thriving farms now lay abandoned.

In Seattle, a thriving Purépecha community has emerged over the past decade. KUOW’s Liz Jones spent a considerable amount of time with this growing village within the city, and we present her report as part of Latino USA’s series New American Voices.


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

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