If Hollywood doesn’t knock on your door … create it yourself!
That’s the adage embraced by the many talented Latino actors, directors, writers and producers right now. While doing it yourself requires much work to get productions on their feet, with raising funds and often times putting your hands in your own pocket, the advantage is that you can provide opportunity to other talented “creatives,” who are overlooked and accurately tell a story without it being culturally compromised.
There are several interesting and positive theater productions going on right now that are well worth supporting.
“A Weekend with Pablo Picasso,” a one man show written and performed by Herbert Siguenza of Culture Clash opens this week (Sept. 16-Oct. 8) at the CASA 0101 Theater. Siguenza has played this role for the last five years throughout the country and as a contemporary artist himself, he has been described as “living in the skin of Picasso.”
The historic Macha Theater is the perfect venue for “Frida – Stroke of Passion,” by Odalys Nanin who also performs the role of Frida. This unique play is co-directed by Nancy de los Santos and is controversial as it poses possible scenarios that may have played a role in the death of the feminist artist which focuses on the last days of her life which are as surreal as her paintings and her passing. Frida runs through Oct. 1.
The Los Angeles Theater Company has two productions currently running that has created a buzz. “The Pitch” starring Paul Rodriguez and Mike Gomez is currently running now until Sept. 17. With a large old fashioned TV on screen that shows the images of those famous Latinos who years ago slipped through the open crack of Hollywood’s door, “The Pitch” is a view of the struggle to “make it,” and the comedians career in his attempt to meet with studio executives to “greenlight” his concept for comedy series, “The Romeros.”
The actual sizzle reel is shown to the audience which was a pleasure to watch with three generations of the bantering “Romeros,” – the elder Romero, played by Edward James Olmos, his son, played by Paul Rodriguez and grandson Paul Rodriguez Jr. of skateboarder fame.
This play, with the song, “No Chicanos on TV,” by the late Lalo Guerrero, makes the unfortunate point that Hollywood has changed little and continues to shut the door on Latino program development. But while the play takes rightful issue with Hollywood’s racial stereotypes and the ignorance of studio gatekeepers, the play makes the same mistakes by taking stereotypical shots at other racial groups under the guise of humor and swipes at Millenials who do a lot more than “look at their I phones.”
“The Pitch” can use some updating to acknowledge that many young people are currently at the political forefront of DACA and political protests and use their phones to organize via social media. But, while clumsy at times, perhaps the point of “The Pitch” is to make the very point that everyone should take a hard look at themselves and can be guilty as charged. For more information go to: www.tmmsd.org (619) 987-5616.
Aladdin Dual Language Edition/Edición De Lenguaje Dual
This musical production with the support of Councilmember Gil Cedillo and TNH Productions In Association With El Centro Del Pueblo and CASA 0101 is now playing at the Los Angeles Theater Company LATC until Sept. 17. With the strength of much singing talent and colorful costuming , this production also works hard to provide magical special effects with a cloud filled moving carpet.
It’s a play to be be enjoyed by the whole family and is especially pleasurable not only because it is a bilingual production but because the issue of dual language is central to this interpretation of this production of “Aladdin.”
This interpretation is especially meaningful for children who have seen the play who come from Spanish- speaking homes to see the Disney characters they are familiar with speak Spanish on stage. “They are always amazed,” said actor Rosa Navarette, “They say, Princess Jazmin speaks Spanish!”
In Disney’s “Aladdin Dual Language Edition/Edición De Lenguaje Dual” everyone in the fictional city of Agrabah used to be able to speak two languages. When the evil Jafar, the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, first finds a Genie’s magic lamp one day, he wishes to divide Agrabah by language so that the people of the palace speak one language and the people in the streets speak another (hence, Spanish and English respectively).
However, Jafar speaks both languages, giving him more power. Before making another wish, Jafar, annoyed with his pet parrot, Iago, throws the lamp out the window, and while doing so, he spills some magic “fluency” dust on Iago. The lamp’s dust also enables two other animals, Princess Jazmín’s pet tiger, Rajah, and Aladdin’s pet monkey, Abu, to also speak human languages.
To help the audience follow this class conflict adventure, Royal Translators serve as narrators and facilitate official state communication, while the multi-lingual animals translate more intimate conversations. For more information go to: (866) 811-4111 INFO@THELATC.ORG
Through the grit of industrious and determined talent, there is much to choose from this that provides choices to support positive Latino theater.