Cara Mía Theatre Mines the Modern Latinx Experience With Teatro En Fuga Festival

The life of labor organizer Cesar Chavez is the subject of El Malcriado, one of the plays in Cara Mia Theatre's Festival of New Works.
The life of labor organizer Cesar Chavez is the subject of El Malcriado, one of the plays in Cara Mia Theatre's Festival of New Works.
Cornelius M. Keyes, National Archives
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Dallas’ Cara Mía Theatre began in 1996 and has grown into the largest Latinx theater in Texas. In their annual Teatro En Fuga: A Festival of New Works, Cara Mía will present minimally staged workshop productions of three experimental plays written by members of the company.

Set to kick off tonight, April 12, and run until April 28, the plays in this year’s festival have origins in Peru, Honduras and the United States. They feature a fairy tale about a giant, the story of a young asylum seeker and a historical drama based on Cesar Chavez.

“At first, the plays were focused on the Chicano or Mexican American experience," says Executive Artistic Director David Lozano of the company's development. "Now, we produce plays that reflect a broad representation of the Latinx experience in the United States.”

Apu: Mountain God by writer and director Jeff Colangelo is a near-wordless play featuring over 120 cutout puppets, a miniature town and a live actor playing a giant. Based on a Peruvian myth, Apu tells the story of a lonely mountain giant who falls in love with a paper town and, in the process, accidentally destroys it. Colangelo describes the show as “a lighthearted, inspiring and fantastical journey of acceptance.” It features an original musical score by Peruvian musician and composer Fabricio CF.

URSULA o dejarse ir en el viento ("URSULA or letting yourself go with the wind") tells the story of Nadia, a 7-year-old separated from her mother while journeying from Honduras to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Writer, director and performer Frida Espinosa-Müller was inspired by the plight of families separated during April 2018 when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

“During this separation, children were waiting in metal-fenced cages — which I think is horrendous, that something like this is still happening today," says Espinosa-Müller. "It is most important to reflect on that and push polices to protect children and families.” This bilingual production will offer subtitles for audience members and features live, original music by Armando Monsivais.

Lozano calls his play a mix of fact and fiction. Based on the life of American labor leader and activist Cesar Chavez, El Malcriado tells Chavez’s story from two perspectives, the historical and the personal.

“What I think is unique and maybe controversial is that I am identifying some unexpected historical writing that refers to Chavez's pragmatism as an organizer and a challenging relationship with his wife, Helen," says Lozano. "Through the lens of El Malcriado, we see what a person of color goes through to achieve basic needs. We also see the dynamics of gender inequality underneath the legends of this storied civil rights hero.”

Lozano sees great importance in revisiting the story of Chavez in 2019. “I believe we live in an era in which we have to be organizers if we want to impact the political world,” he says.

Teatro en Fuga: A Festival of New Works, happens at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak. Tonight's performance is sold out. Visit Cara Mia's website for a full schedule and to buy tickets ($15).

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