When East Austinite Adam L. Chapa Sr. was shot in his driveway in 1998 by a teen gang member, his family’s life forever changed. But Teatro Vivo’s latest production “Sangre de un Ángel” (Blood of an Angel) now aims to encourage young adults with Chapa’s story.
The play by Roxanne Schroeder-Arce of “Mariachi Girl” is directed by Chapa’s cousin Si Mon’ Emmett. The free performances June 1-3 at 8 p.m. with an additional 4 p.m. performance June 2 will be at the Hillside Theatre at the A.B. Cantu Pan American Recreation Center (2100 E. Third St, Austin, Texas), near Chapa’s home.
Sangre de un Ángel tells the story of a rebellious teenager who seeks the approval of his troubled friends. But when his auto mechanics teacher gives him the opportunity to rebuild a classic 1957 Chevy, he’s encouraged to go back to school. Just as he’s looking forward to a hopeful future, trouble follows him home.
“Teenagers, teenagers of color most importantly, don’t often see themselves represented in professional theater in a way where we can see the multiple elements of their lives influencing their decisions,” Emmett says. “Their stories are important.”
Humor can bring people together and often helps us find our commonalities. For one weekend only (Aug. 4-6), Teatro Vivo presents Mexcentrics, a Latino comedy showcase that will feature everything from ensemble performances to solo acts that highlight Latino life and culture “with authenticity, sincerity and laughter,” according to the Latino theater group.
Comedian Howard Beecher will host the showcases at 8 p.m. on Thursday and 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. In addition to performances by Mexcentrics, the comedy troupe behind sketch comedy shows such as “Pulga Nation” and “Pulga Time Machine,” other featured comics include actress, improviser and sketch comedy writer Vanessa Gonzalez, stand-up comedian, writer and actor Jesse Pangelinan and improv comedy troupe Shades of Brown.
“It’s exciting to have such a talented team of professional actors and comedians who love to make people laugh and are dedicated to delivering an honest look at the Latino experience,” said Teatro Vivo’s Artistic Executive Director Mario Ramirez in a statement.
But you might want to leave your children at home. Teatro Vivo warns that the shows contain adult content. Tickets, which range from $15-$20, can be purchased at teatrovivo.org/buy-tickets/.
The popular festival, which is presented by Teatro Vivo in collaboration with ScriptWorks, offers three days of live staged readings from Feb. 25-27 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.
All of the productions spotlight the Latino experience and identity in engaging ways, from dealing with loss to coming of age stories. This year the festival brings two theater pieces for youth.
Featured playwrights include Detroit-based theater artist Emilio Rodriguez; scholar and artist Roxanne Schroeder-Arce (who also wrote the popular bilingual musical “Mariachi Girl”); actor, dancer and performance artist Krysta Gonzales; and University of Texas undergraduate student Andrew Valdez. After each reading, the playwrights will participate in talkback sessions with the audience.
General admission tickets are donation-based. Reserved seats range from $15-$40. Visit teatrovivo.org for more information.
Among the Latino cultural art happenings this weekend are two unique theater and dance offerings. Both Teatro Vivo’s latest production “El Nogalar” and the Aztlan Dance Company’s “Itzpapalotl: Obsidian Butterfly” were among American-Statesman’s art critic Jeanne Claire van Ryzin’s weekend art picks.
“El Nogalar.” Teatro Vivo stages Tanya Saracho’s critically acclaimed modern bilingual adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” On a beautiful but fading ranch in northern Mexico, the upper-middle-class Galvan family struggles to hold on to their generations-old pecan orchards as well as their social status as both land in the crosshairs of the contemporary drug cartel violence. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. June 7 and 14, through June 20. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St. $14-$20. 512-474-6379, teatrovivoatx.wordpress.com. —Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
“Itzpapalotl: Obsidian Butterfly.” Aztlan Dance Company brings its fusion of contemporary dance and ballet folklorico flare to an original show about a young girl whose encounter with the magic Aztec butterfly goddess, Itzpapalotl, leads her on a journey that reveals the wonderful secrets of life. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. June 7. Santa Cruz Center for Culture, 1805 E. Seventh St. $12-$15. 512-762-7000, http://www.aztlandance.com. —Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
If you haven’t had a chance to catch the latest Teatro Vivo production, there’s still time. The bilingual comedy “Aye, No!” continues Thursdays-Sundays through Nov. 23.
In my last Cultura en Austin column, I interviewed playwright Liz Coronado Castillo about her inspiration behind the entertaining story that explores sexual identity. She also shares a cool story about why she decided to include drag queens in her work.
“Aye, No!” brings to life the story of Alicia, a college student from a small border town, who decides to bring a friend home from college to meet her traditional Mexican family. While Alicia’s well-intentioned grandmother and two nosey aunts expect a boyfriend to walk in the room, instead they meet Alicia’s girlfriend Cathy.
“I view theater as a social and political platform,” says Coronado Castillo, 36, who is also a stand-up comic. “And we can say a lot more and get a lot more people to listen and come together through humor.”
Shows begin at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets, which are $14-$20, are available at http://ayeno.bpt.me.