Guest blogger Tina Aguilar is an arts advocate, Cara Mia Board Member and teaches humanities/cultural studies at Brookhaven College.
Cara Mia Theatre Company Artistic Director David Lozano is the co-writer and director of Crystal City 1969, which opens tonight. I spoke with him recently about the production:
Tina Aguilar: Why Crystal City 1969?
David Lozano: What took place in Crystal City was a mass awakening of an entire town of Mexican and Chicano residents. The Mexican American community was 85% of the population, but they did not have real representation on the school board and city council, so they were systematically discriminated against in school and could not make policy that was fair to them in the city government. The 1969 Crystal City walkout created a renaissance in the town. Students went from being discouraged from studying and aspiring for a higher education to craving and being hungry to learn and attend college. The students’ minds were being cracked open for good. So we have this revolution that turned around completely the political, social and economic and cultural lives of these Chicano students and their parents.
T.A.: Tell me about your directing and writing concepts for this production.
D.L.: I am playing with the idea that the ensemble of actors is a chorus that tells the story and transforms into the multiple characters necessary to tell this event. We will have a set, costumes, etc., but we will not depend on the set or costumes to tell our story. Rather, we will see the actors develop throughout the performance.
This has been an incredible experience as a writer. I write for performance and not necessarily for the written word. So I don’t obsess over words. I concern myself with dramatic action. I ask myself, how can I write this scene so that it impacts the audience immediately and doesn’t allow tension between audience and performers to dissipate? And we have been able to write this historical account with brief scenes that are building blocks to a dense historical story. What becomes important is the performance style in which the story is told and the rhythm of the play so that the performance is buoyant, alive and engaging for the audience.