Latina/o Plays for Young Performers
A Resource for Teachers
The Texas Education Agency has reported that over 50 percent of students enrolled in Texas public schools are Hispanic (their term; I use Latina/o). There are great disparities in this data and the number of plays read and produced in school theatre programs that feature Latina/o characters. In my work as a high school theatre teacher in Texas and in my current position of teacher of theatre teachers at UT Austin, I recognize a consistent invisibility of Latina/o stories and bodies in our theatre curricula and on our school stages. Sometimes, non-Latina/o teachers express to me their feelings of inadequacy in representing plays outside of their identity markers, and their fears of misrepresenting Latina/o cultures. Other times, they state that they never studied Latina/o plays in their educational programs. Whatever the reason, theatre teachers rarely introduce nor produce Latina/o plays despite the numbers of Latina/os that fill their classes. Resources are necessary to help break the cycle of exclusion.
What are the plays you want to see in our schools? What have you produced already?
Several years ago, I began to compile a list of plays with Latina/o themes and characters appropriate (or worthy) to be performed by young performers; quality dramatic literature for teachers to produce with their students. More and more, I am asked to share this list with teachers all over the country—from Texas, California, Arizona, New York, and even Iowa and Michigan. I have only included published plays.
Texas has a large competitive festival of plays each year, part of the University Interscholastic League (UIL). Each year, a handful of plays compete at the State meet, presumably the most effective plays from all over the state. Last year, Virginia Grise’s blu was one of those plays and the year before Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez was finally at the State meet. I have been writing about the history of Latina/o representation in UIL for a while. More critical and scholarly works of mine are currently in press. For now, I offer this list as a resource to move toward more plays with Latina/o themes and characters on Texas school stages, and school stages throughout the country.
Plays are in alphabetical order by playwright’s last name:
Quiara Alegría Hudes: Barrio Girl. Dramatic Publishing.
Luis Alfaro. Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Piñata Woman and Other Superhero Girls, Like Me. Playscripts.
Lynn Alvarez: Esperanza Rising. Plays for Young Audiences.
José (CC) Casas: La Ofrenda. Somebody’s Children. The Bully Plays (anthology). Dramatic Publishing.
Gabriel Jason Dean. The Transition of Doodle Pequeño. Dramatic Publishing.
José Cruz González: Calabasas Street. Highest Heaven. Marisol’s Christmas. Tomás and the Library Lady. Two Donuts. The Sun Serpent. Dramatic Publishing.
Ramon Esquivel: Luna. Dramatic Publishing.
Meryl Friedman: Journey of the Sparrows. Dramatic Publishing.
Sylvia Gonzalez S.: Alicia in Wonder Tierra. Boxcar/El Vagon. Dramatic Publishing.
Coleman A. Jennings: Nine plays by José Cruz González (anthology). Dramatic Publishing.
Wendy Kesselman: Maggie Magalita. Samuel French.
Lisa Loomer: Bocón. Dramatic Publishing.
Josefina López: Simply Maria or the American Dream, Real Women Have Curves. Dramatic Publishing.
Andrea Moon: El Viaje de Beatriz. Dramatic Publishing.
Guillermo Reyes. Rowing to America: The Immigrant Project. Dramatic Publishing.
Alvaro Saar Rios: Luchadora! Dramatic Publishing.
José Rivera: Maricela de la Luz Lights the World. Dramatic Publishing.
Milcha Sanchez-Scott: Evening Star, Roosters (in a liberal high school) Dramatists Play Service.
Luis Santario: Our Lady of the Tortilla. Dramatists Play Service.
Roxanne Schroeder-Arce: Señora Tortuga. Sangre de un Angel. Mariachi Girl. Dramatic Publishing.
Karen Zacarías: Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans. How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accent. Looking for Roberto Clemente. Magical Piñata. Frida Libre. Dramatic Publishing.
Please keep in mind that this list is in no way comprehensive; in fact, it’s just a start. I encourage you to respond in the comments section here—and add titles that you think need to be represented in our schools—plays to which teachers in the US, and, in turn, youth, need to be exposed. I listed several plays from some individual playwrights. This is based on what I feel is good material for K-12 students, and is not exhaustive by playwright. The list represents a range of plays that could be performed in high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools, and youth programs in communities. That is also purposeful.
Eventually, I plan to create a more comprehensive list including themes, character breakdowns, character and performer age range, etc.
What are the plays you want to see in our schools? What have you produced already? Let’s get these titles to the youth who most need to see representations of people who look like their family members and themselves.