touti001: November 2012 Archives


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The colonization of Mexico has affected Chicanos as a whole and is present in modern theatre. We will define Chicano as a person of Mexican descent that focuses on taking pride of one's Mexican origins and does allow for an American or European identity mixed in with the Mexican (according to Mexica-Movement).
We will begin our argument with a short intro of Valdez (the most prominent figure in modern Chicano theatre) and dissect our way back to the history of Mexico's colonization and how those lasting effects are still present today. First, we want to compare some of the Aztec notions of performance which were quite different than our understanding of it and then contrast them with the aspects of their rituals that have persevered through time. The biggest example of this being the focus on religion as a means to create identity which Valdez talks about extensively.
Then, with the arrival of the Spanish, we will try to convey how the impact of this Westernization is evident to this day, and specifically in theater. We want to use Valdez and the Chicano Theatre Movement surrounding him, to provide a modern scope through which to view the past. Hopefully, at the end of our presentation, people will be able to determine for themselves what has and has not changed.

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.

Format of Presentation

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Our group decided to present the information in the form of a lecture. In order to have a visually engaging presentation we chose to use a prezi instead of a power point, this will allows us to add slides, pictures, videos in an efficient and effective way. Our experience is that this visual tool is often times more interactive than having a lecture without any other material.
Since there are five of us, we have decided to work collectively on building our overall argument and then split so that each one of us has a focus area building towards a connection between the works of Luis Valdez and Mexico's Colonization led by Cortez.
Our goal is for the audience to understand that history can and does have an impact on our action and thoughts today.

Nov. 13th

We will use Luis Valdez's Teatro Campesino as a lens in which to dissect the historical Cortez encounter between Colonial powers and the Indigenous Aztecs'. Cortez symbolizes "Colonial white power" over the Aztecs in modern Chicano Theatre. He also represents the white power bond over Chicanos' throughout history and into the present.

Roman Guastaferro
Nicole LaFontaine
Katherine Toutin
Amanda Waldhoff
Lura Wilson

TH 3171
Group Project Proposal

Indigenous Mexican/Colonial Theatre

Our project will focus on comparing and analysing performance aspects upon the arrival of Cortez to Mexico with the work of Luis Valdez starting with 1965. In 1965 Luis Valdez formed El Teatro Campesino, a farm worker's theatre troupe. During the same year the Immigration Law in the US changed and remained as we know it today. His troupe soon grew into a national Chicano Theatre Movement. Valdez frequently lectures about El Teatro Campesino, and focuses on the importance of Chicano media to help fight the negative ethnic stereotypes.
We chose to research these two time periods because we are aware of the relevance of Valdez's work in our contemporary context of Mexican Immigration but we also consider that this revival of Mexican theatre would only had been possible under the influence of Colonization. In our beginning research we came upon Valdez as a very active member of the Chicano community who still has resonance and is an active artist in the present.
In order to decide on a narrow topic we consulted the following sources from the library site and the web:

Booth, Willard C. "Dramatic Aspects of Aztec Rituals." JSTOR. University of Minnesota, n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. "The Solitude of Latin America." Nobel Prize. Speech.

Ludden, Jennifer. "1965 Immigration Law Changed Face of America." NPR (2006): n. pag. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.

Necessary Theatre: Luis Valdez. YouTube. UCtelevision, 19 June 2008. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.

"The Official Site of El Teatro Campesino." The Official Site of El Teatro Campesino. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2012. .

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