The Latino Theatre Company who operates the LATC that housed “Encuentro 2014” produced Premeditation by Evelina Fernandez as their contribution to the festival. The plays seems like a good choice to present in order to appeal to all the different Latin American theatre artists at this festival, generation wise I mean. Since the inception of El Teatro Campesino the U.S. has placed a stronger look at what Latin Americans have to offer in the theatre world. However, half a century later, there are a lot more stories of Hispanic Americans to tell apart from those of Chicano farm workers. Of course, the stories they were telling were not specifically about their work but about their community.
I’ve noticed “machismo” is a huge theme in plays from, what I will call, the older generation Hispanic theatre artists. I also notice this, especially, as a young Latina woman reading back on these plays. And I understand this is a huge issue traditional Hispanic families deal with. What excited me to read female Latina playwrights was that maybe it wouldn’t be about Hispanic women as mothers and wives in fear of their husbands running rampant and causing destruction in their own problems. But it still appears inevitably in some male characters in plays even when the play is about the female Latina. And I think it’s because machismo was still a big part of female Latina playwrights’ experiences.
With new generation Hispanic theatre artists, however, I think of myself and I think of women like those from Teatro Luna, for example, and strong independent Latina women who encounter problems and tell stories about other issues than that of dealing with men. Now we get the stories of the kids of the older generation Hispanic artists. Maybe they grew up in a similar community that their parents did, all Spanish speaking and from the same Latin American country, perhaps even immigrants themselves. Or maybe they grew up Mexican in a Puerto Rican community. Or maybe they are mixed race or maybe they grew up in a non-hispanic community. Whatever the case is– the next generation of Hispanic writers, actors, directors, producers, designers are coming and are emerging. They also have to interact with the older generation and just like with any age disparity comes a change in ideas, beliefs- politically, socially, morally. It’s exciting and dangerous. I’m ready.
I will soon emerge from a collegian artist into having to make my own living as a theatre artist, a Hispanic theatre artist. And I will never be able to remove myself from being a part of that grouping, that ticking of the box on forms, interviews and data collection, which is fine with me as long as I embrace it. A lot of artists feel that they aren’t (insert race/culture/nationality)_____ enough. At the same time they are other-ed in the white community so where do they belong? I say you can’t tell me I’m not Hispanic enough. I’m Hispanic American and I don’t need to be anything else but myself. The problem isn’t that the artists work doesn’t seem _________ enough, it’s that producers, directors, theatre deciders are looking for something, looking for diversity, through the wrong pathway.
I see casting multi-cultural actors in lead roles that don’t specify a certain race as the pathway towards being more diverse in the theatre, not the production of plays with very specific race qualifications.