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Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

The Chicano Elvis

For almost 25 years, Robert Lopez has been putting on an Elvis suit and becoming El Vez, the Mexican Elvis. Performing as an Elvis “interpreter” started out as a dare when Lopez was an art gallery owner in Los Angeles, but the act has become a loopy tribute to The King and other rock icons, as well as tongue-in-cheek vehicle to reference Chicano culture and politics. It’s equal parts homage and satire.

Lopez describes his alter ego this way: “It’s like if Liberace taught Chicano Studies, if Viva Las Vegas became Viva la Raza.”

El Vez has done many themed shows, including “El Vez for Prez” in 2008. But his “Mex-Mas” show is one of the most popular, and he tours with it every year. “I put a mustache on white Christmas,” said Lopez, who tweaks the Irving Berlin classic song and sings, “I’m dreaming of a Brown Christmas.”

El Vez official site here. For 2013 Mex-Mas tour dates, go here.



Nadia Reiman has been a radio producer since 2005. Before joining the Latino USA team, Nadia produced for StoryCorps for almost five years. Her work there on 9/11 stories earned her a Peabody Award. She has also mixed audio for animations, one which won a DuPont award, hosted podcasts, and has guest hosted and produced for Afropop Worldwide on PRI. Nadia has also produced for None on Record editing and mixing stories of queer Africans, and worked on a Spanish language radio show called Epicentro based out of Washington DC. She graduated from Kenyon College with a double major in International Studies and Spanish Literature.




Photo courtesy of Randall-Michelson

After the Prize

Quiara Alegría Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer for her play “Water by the Spoonful,” about a Puerto Rican vet who returns to family strife in Philadelphia. It’s the second in a trilogy, and Maria Hinojosa speaks to the playwright just before the opening of the third play, “The Happiest Song Plays Last.”

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of The Goodman Theatre. Click here for more information on “The Happiest Song Plays Last.”

HudesQuiara_288x375Quiara Alegría Hudes is the author of “Water by the Spoonful,” winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. “Water by the Spoonful” is the second in a trilogy of plays. The first, “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. She wrote the book for the Broadway musical “In the Heights,” which received the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical, and was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist.Hudes received a B.A. in music cum laude from Yale University and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Brown, She was recently inducted into the Central High School Hall of Fame–the first Latina and among the first group of women to receive this honor since the school’s founding in 1836. She now lives in New York with her husband and daughter.

The Mighty Jícama

Performance artist Mero Cocinero Karimi has focused his work in the past few years around educating and empowering communities at risk for Type II diabetes. He shares part of a new performance piece, called “28 days of good energia,” drawn from stories and practices on food and health he’s collected around the country.

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of All Googly.

Mero Cocinero Karimi is an Iranian-Guatemalan cook to revolutionaries & dreamers, and host of The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades, a live cooking performance for your heart, mind, stomach & funny bone. His role as an advocate for healthy communities through laughter & cooking has brought him to Alaska, Mexico, and everywhere in between. A frequent speaker on television shows & at universities, the Associated Press called his show ‘a globally flavored recipe that packs some punch lines.’ Mero is a proud graduate of the Paolo Freire Culinary Institute, and has cooked for such luminaries as DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, poets Tato Laviera, Jose Montoya, Yuri Kochiyama and Michele Serros, and hiphop superstar MF Doom. His latest episodes focus on cultural foods as a source of healing. For him ‘the revolution starts in the kitchen, one kitchen at a time.’

Luis Alfaro’s Bruja: Medea in the Mission

Emily Wilson takes us to see Los Angeles poet and playwright Luis Alfaro’s latest play, “Bruja,” where he transports Euripides’ Medea to San Francisco’s Mission district. In it, Alfaro poses questions about what is gained and what is lost by immigrants in a new country.

Click here to download this week’s show.

Emily Wilson is a freelance reporter and producer in San Francisco. She teaches media literacy, math, and English to adults earning their GED at City College of San Francisco.

Frequently Unanswered Questions

The United States is a Nation of Immigrants, but many Americans don’t realize what the generations before them went through and sacrificed to provide them with a brighter future. Actress Daphne Rubin-Vega has felt the consequences of such decisions first hand.
She is a two-time Tony and Drama Desk nominee, best known as Mimi in Broadway’s long running musical Rent. And she was only three years old when she was separated from her mother who left Panama to study nursing in New York City. Her Mother was absent through much of Daphne’s childhood. Back then, Daphne didn’t understand why; and now, a mother herself to a 6-year old boy, the questions pile up but the answers are still scarce.

A letter Daphne found in a drawer, written by her Mother long after her Mother died gave Daphne a new perspective and was the inspiration for her one-woman semi-autobiographical play “FUQ’s.” “Frequently Unanswered Questions” explores the bonds of a family separated not just by the Caribbean Gulf, but by the longing and loneliness of being the last one standing, struggling to understand her Mother’s choices. Maria Hinojosa sat down with the actress to talk about her new play.

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

“FUQ’s” is being performed March 22nd and 24th as part of the Culture Project’s “Women Center Stage” series in New York City. It was written by Rubin-Vega with playwright Winter Miller and Directed by John Gould Rubin.

Watch exclusive clips from Daphne Rubin-Vega’s rehearsal and interview with Maria Hinojosa.
Video by Nusha Balyan

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.

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

San Antonio Play Tackles Family, Dreams and Acceptance

The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center presented the world premiere of “Miss America, a Mexicanito Fairy’s Tale,” on June 19.  Written by San Antonio playwright Jesús Alonzo and directed by Maria A. Ibarra, the production doesn’t go “over the top” with depictions of boys in drag. Rather, it deals with deeper issues of acceptance, family, religion, and coming to terms with one’s dreams.

Actress Erica Andrews is a former Miss International Queen.

The story begins and ends with 9 year-old Chuy, played by actor Jaime Gonzalez, who gets caught by his macho older brother playing in their sisters room. Chuy has on his sisters Quinceañera dress and a towel wrapped around his head, pretending to be a contestant in the Miss America beauty pageant.
Rather than harp on the usual themes of rejection, Alonzo highlights family and relationships. In the end, the brother, played by Manuel Barraza, isn’t angry at Chuy because of his desire to be feminine and beautiful, but is concerned that he is opening himself to ridicule and cruel rejection by others. He truly seems to want to protect his brother.

Much of the production is carried by talented actress Erica Andrews who plays all the female roles in the play. Andrews was born in Mexico and is a former Miss International Queen 2006, considered one of the most prestigious beauty pageants among the transgendered.

The play continues at the Esperanza Center June 26, 27 and July 3. For information: or 210-228-0201.

Listen to a scene in the play where Chuy refuses to confess to a priest and instead prays to La Virgen de Guadalupe and describes the fight he had with his best friend while they were playing “Miss America.”

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

Listen to a scene where Chuy daydreams that he is a finalist in the Miss America pageant and is asked why he would make a good Miss America.

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

Listen to a scene where Bobby catches Chuy playing “Miss America” in a dress. [Bleeped for language.]

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

Listen to the interview with playwright Jesús Alonzo

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

Listen to the interview with director Maria Ibarra.

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


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