Arizona State University Borderlands Offers El Vagon

Arizona State University Borderlands Offers El Vagon

Performance in the Borderlands offers spring events with EL VAGON by Silvia Gonzalez S.

The Performance in the Borderlands Project at ASU introduces another exciting and thought-provoking series of screenings, performances and discussions with artists, critics and scholars on topics related to cross-cultural performing arts. The events will be held through April 14 and are free, unless otherwise noted. “One of the most exciting aspects of this series is the focus on conversations with guest artists and performance practitioners who are collaborating with ASU students and faculty,” says Ramon Rivera-Servera, an assistant professor of theater and a Southwest Borderlands scholar. “The series offers the public a unique opportunity to learn about these artists, and to preview some of the most interesting work being produced in the Southwest.” The Performance in the Borderlands Project, part of the Herberger College’s School of Theatre and Film at ASU, is a research, education and public programming initiative dedicated to the understanding and promotion of cultural performance along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Jesuit Performance of BOXCAR

Jesuit Performance of BOXCAR

“Boxcar” Receives Rave Review by Martha Humphries

The Jesuit Philothespic Society, in association with the Jesuit Multicultural Student Union, produced the award-winning play Boxcar by Silvia Gonzalez S., a play about risk, courage, and desperation based on an actual incident in Sierra Blanca, Texas, in July 1987. Tragedy struck this small west Texas town when 18 men died in a sweltering boxcar left on a rail siding. The men, who were journeying northwards into the United States in hopes of a better life, suffocated in temperatures that reached 130 degrees.

At Jesuit’s invitation, the award-winning playwright, who currently lives in Powell Butte, Oregon, attended the opening night performance. “This is the first high school to do the play. I wanted to see if it could work at this level because it is such heavy duty material,” says Gonzalez. “I just had a sense that this performance was going to be something special, and it was. It’s like a professional production. I can’t believe they are kids.”Father Gene Sessa, Jesuit teacher and director, says the play has two purposes – to tell the story of the immigrants and to provide a better understanding about the struggles they face. To prepare the students for the play, Fr. Sessa arranged for them to speak with someone who actually came into the country in a boxcar and took them to visit the local Holocaust Museum. While at the museum, they encountered a man who himself had been transported in a boxcar during World War II.

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“Life and death in a boxcar” LatinoLA.com story by Kat Avila

“Life and death in a boxcar” LatinoLA.com story by Kat Avila
Playwright Silvia Gonzalez-S. writes like a writer

By Kat Avila

Web Published 3.8.2004

Of the playwrights I have known, Silvia Gonzalez-S. remains the most dedicated and compassionate when it comes to writing about the experience of immigrants and their children in the U.S., and, additionally, the experience of women in patriarchal society. Her play “Boxcar” is playing until April 4 at Teatro Vision, in San Jose, California. The drama gives voice to the dreams of every immigrant who has crossed the political border creating two Mexicos, and reminds us of the tragic ends some have met along the treacherous path.

K: Kat Avila S: Silvia Gonzalez-S.

K: Where did you grow up?

S: Pacoima, California. Where Ritchie Valens [of “La Bamba” fame] grew up. In the San Fernando Valley. I know L.A. and the valley like the back of my hand. I just met the first Hispanic Valley girl. I’m the second Hispanic Valley Girl.

K: What was your first play?

S: “Boxcar” is the first play I wrote. It has had numerous readings. My collection of articles and personal contacts with immigrants throughout the years make the play life-in-progress. The first plays I had produced were “T (for Torture)” and “La Llorona Llora.” Both are short one-acts that I directed in Chicago at A Stage of One’s Own. A storefront theatre for women. The feedback was very good. “T” was attended by Chilean immigrants who remarked the torture in Chile was depicted well. The torture on stage was abstract, but if your mind reversed what you saw you were very affected.

K: How has your identity marked your writing?

S: I am somewhat Chicanacentric, or Latinacentric. I see through the eyes of a Latina. I write like a writer. Whatever hits me goes in my work. However, I strive to depict the Latino accurately, and I like to represent myself as a Latina who can write whatever.

K: How do you move through the world?

S: I think I move through the world with an observing eye. Then I decide to write it down, and to my surprise it is interesting to people. Now in my later years, I’m trying to observe people with compassion, even the ones who are blatant idiots. Playwrights are behavioral scientists and we document emotions.

K: What’s being said about “Boxcar”?

S: What is remarkable is that it’s going to play entirely in Spanish on certain days and English on other days. Days set aside for students are completely booked. Immigrant rights groups have come to rehearsals and tell me it is exactly as it is written. An attorney helping immigrants loved the work and said it is exactly as we see it on stage. I believe the audiences will include many Spanish-dominant speaking people who have not had an opportunity to see a play, and that this work will make them theatergoers.

K: Is “Boxcar” your longest-running and most successful play to date?

S: “Boxcar” made several rounds. A company wanted to publish it, but I wanted to wait. I don’t know why. Just felt I needed to wait and let the play grow more. I let my play “Alicia in Wonder Tierra” get published. It’s probably my most successful play to date. However, because of the political climate today, “Boxcar” will probably do much better. Isn’t it interesting what timing does for an artistic work?

K: What’s your most favorite play?

S: I love all my plays. I slept with them, so how could I not love them?

Kat previously interviewed Silvia for Ollantay Theater Magazine 9.18 (2001).

Life and Death in a Boxcar

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Theater review: ‘Farmworker’s Son’ unravels cultural taboos

Theater review: ‘Farmworker’s Son’ unravels cultural taboos

By Michelle Zenarosa
On-line Forty-Niner

farmworkersMovimiento Estudiantil de Teatro y Artes or META brought to the University Theater, an empowering and realistic story not only about Latin-Americans, but also about all Americans who have faced the affects of assimilation.

META’s new production “The Migrant Farmworker’s Son,” which opened Friday captured all the drama of today’s modern world, where the word “immigrant” is a social taboo, and it is an everyday struggle to break free from the past while fighting to preserve one’s cultural heritage.

Although the play is mainly a drama, humorous one-liners sprinkled throughout the play brought laughter to the audience. Written by Silvia Gonzales and directed by Emiliano Torres, the balance of tears and laughter ingeniously and successfully gave the play its character.

The play opens with the cast working in the fields when a terrible accident occurs. It goes on to tell a story of a Mexican family’s struggles to unite in a sea of culture clashes. The father, played by Rudy Marquez, longs for Mexico; the mother, played by Dina Jaregui is accused of valuing American culture more than her own, becoming more like a “gringo;” and the lost son with two names– an American and a Mexican– that knows nothing of his heritage.

Read more at California State University, Long Beach

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