Fresno State students will present a free performance, presenting scenes with themes significant to the Latino community. “This is Our Voice, This is Our Culture: Latinx Theatre in the U.S.A.” will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at Arte Américas, 1630 Van Ness Ave.

The students have been taking a course on Latinx theatre in the Department of Theatre Arts, taught by new professor Dr. Gina Sandí-Díaz, who will direct their performances.

In this presentation, the scenes from three different plays are woven together by two present-day college students, Marco and Julia, who are debating which theatre play to select for a school project.

Their discussion will take the audience on a journey, visiting Latino characters dealing with conflicts related to identity, gender, sexuality and a sense of belonging. The plays featured in the show are:
  • “Anna in the Tropics” (2003) by Nilo Cruz. The story takes place in Ybor City, Tampa in 1929. A family of Cuban immigrants owning a cigar factory has just hired a lector to entertain their workers while they spend the day hand-rolling cigars. The lector completely transforms the family, causing fissures among the members of the family, that mirror the social fissures of the time caused by the replacement of workers by machines.
  • “Just Like Us” (2014) by Karen Zacarias. This play is based on the novel Just Like Us by Hellen Thorpe. The story follows 4 immigrant teenagers in early 2000’s Denver, CO. Two of the girls have legal papers and two don’t. As the story progresses, the girls experience all kinds of trouble due to their legal status, forcing them to reflect on their situation, question their sense of identity and ultimately, forcing them to make difficult, yet important decisions for their future.
  • “Lydia” (2008) by Octavio Solis. This takes place in the early 1970s, El Paso, TX.  A family of Mexican-Americans hires an undocumented immigrant, Lydia, as a maid. She develops a special, almost magical bond with most of the family members, especially with Ceci, the only girl in the family who is now disabled due to a car accident. Through Lydia, Ceci exposes dark family secrets, unleashing the family’s rage and shame. The story is very poetic and it’s a beautiful Mexican-American tragedy.

“Latinx theatre is a theatre for social change movement committed to voice the stories and life struggles of Latinos around the world and to facilitating dialogue around social issues that directly impact Latino communities,” Sandí-Díaz said. “‘This is Our Voice, This is Our Culture’ is a fun and engaging performance meant to introduce the Fresno community to some of the stories that compose the Latinx theatre canon.”

Sandí-Díaz said the showcase was entirely put together by the students in her class.

Doors open at 4 p.m. Following the performance, Arte Americas will host a small reception where the audience can chat with the actors and professor.

“The audience can expect to experience a glimpse of the type of stories they can enjoy as part of upcoming seasons of Fresno State’s University Theatre,” Sandí-Díaz said. “We are starting this spring, with Solis’ ‘Lydia.’ The show will run March 16-24 in the Woods Theatre.”