Firehall Arts Centre

Latino Theatre Group's world premiere of

¿Qué pasa with La Raza, eh?

by Carmen Aguirre

Until March 27th at the Firehall Arts Centre

by Ed Farolan

What is happening with the Latinos in Canada is what was happening with the Chicanos in California 30 years ago. But for the Latino youth of today who were not born yet, this is a new discovery.   In the United States, it was more the wetbacks, which started off in the play's first scene, the Mexicans who crossed the Rio Grande to California in search of the good life.  Here in this play, however, we're looking at the flow of Latino refugees from Chile after the Pinochet takeover in the early seventies, followed by the Salvadoran and Guatamalan refugees in the eighties. Many of the Latino youth today in Canada were already born here, or came here as children, and are only discovering their roots and their history.

As I was watching this farce of Latinos telling their own stories, snipets about the girl-boy relationship, or the skin factor in racial discrimination, Canadian style, I told myself "This is the same old story with a few variations", that being the "desaparecidos", which formed the only tragic scene in the play.  In fact, the play is dedicated to the "hundreds of thousands" who disappeared in Latin America since the 70s.

This young, talented group of Latinos were very natural in their acting.  For non-professionals, they handled their lines well, although the pacing in some scenes I found too fast.  But that's how Spanish is.  You talk it at a fast pace. There wasn't a moment of boredom. They were comfortable with their lines, and they enjoyed doing the play, which is what counts the most.  

I would have liked to see these actors not only dance but also sing, perhaps make a musical, the next time around. With all that energy, they could go on and on.  It was refreshing, though, to see this young, talented cast exuding all that Latin gusto. And indeed, the Latino presence is beginning to create waves in the theatre scene in Vancouver.

All of the actors were excellent, but I'd like to commend in particular 19-year old Chilean Kenia Avendano and 20 -year old Salvadoran Oparin Ortiz for their extraordinary energy and humor. Carmen Aguirre, a Studio 58 graduate, who wrote and directed the play, should be highly commended for putting up the first Latino theatre group here in Vancouver, and getting this world premiere under way. I hope to see more of her work with the Latino Theatre Group in the years to come.