Divide and conquer! Answers to questions 1-3

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1. To help people understand our topic it is going to be necessary for us to communicate the social conditions in which this theatre arose. Looking at the recent past, from the early sixties on, various restraints (societal, racial, classism) prompted the type of guerilla, agitprop theatre that Luis Valdez helped to start (with his company Teatro Campesino) and eventually propel into the mainstream. We need to make clear the origins of the plight of the Chicano's race as a whole, by highlighting how oppression was at the origin, being the Spanish arrival in ancient Central America. The patterns of oppression that began with colonialism affect Chicanos to this day, and our aim is show that by looking at the issues being dealt with in modern works.

2. The topic of modern day Chicano theatre, specifically Teatro Campesino, was formed under the social movements of the Chicano farm-labor strikes in the sixties. Their views or philosophies were shown in their easy-to-understand performances. The characters wore signs around their necks stating who they were: "Boss" = bad guy, "striker" = good guy. They were easy to understand because they were a parody of their situation. They mostly served to boost the strikers' spirits. In order to make light of their situation without completely undermining it, the performers knew that humor was their best asset in getting their story to light. Their story is just one in the running theme that humans have been wasted for generations. Valdez and his Teatro Campesino is influenced by the oppression occurring in the sixties when they were farmers as well as the post-colonization of the Aztecs which involves oppression by the Spaniards in labor, housing, religion, amongst other.

3. We will have to leave out information on the process of colonization itself and just focus on the "Spanish domination vs. Indian subjugation". We also think it might be necessary to set aside the conversation on how Colonization is a performance in order for us to have time to analyze Colonization through Valdez's work. We consider this to be a better use of our presentation time because it allows us to understand issues of power and race in history and present day.

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I'm a bit worried by your emphasis on Valdez. Recall my comments to your "Narrow the Scope" assignment: "Because of the scope of this particular theatre history class (Greek to Neo-Classical), it's important that your main avenue of research stay within that time period. To make sure this happens, you should utilize your research on Teatro Campesino as a lens through which to view the "encounter" between colonizers and indigenous mexicans (such as the Aztecs)."

Events more closely connected to the present day have a certain gravity to them because they are (seemingly) more understandable. But when you say that you'll have to leave out information on the process of colonization itself and continually highlight Valdez's work, I get concerned that you haven't been focusing on the right topic. Consider that your fellow classmates will likely not know much about the history of colonization in Mexico. Laying the ground work for how Spanish culture infiltrated the territory we now know as Mexico will take some time. You could certainly get to Valdez and Teatro Campesino in 20 minutes, but you need to make sure you discuss the colonial history, and, more importantly, the role that theatre and performance has played in that history.

Also, I have some more questions based on your links between Valdez and the colonization:
1. Does the term "Chicano" encompass specific indigenous group? Does it relate to native Mexicans at all, or only to Mexicans who currently live in the United States? If the latter, how do you make the transition from a discussion about indigenous Mexico to the United States?
2. What indigenous groups were particularly affected by the arrival of the Spanish?
3. What's the difference between the Aztecs and the Nahuatl. Do Mexican's today consider themselves Nahuatl?

GRADE: 80%

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This page contains a single entry by touti001 published on November 18, 2012 1:07 PM.

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