The Maria Chronicles
?West Side Story lied!? ?Columbus would never have ?discovered? America without a Latina!? These statements and many others adorned the McConomy blackboard behind Wednesday night?s ?The Maria Chronicles.? Teatro Luna, a cast of six young Latin-American women, let their audience step into the life of a Latina in entertainment. From pants that will not fit, to trying to act more ?spicy,? the series of 17 short scenes hilariously explored the stereotypes and prejudices that Hispanic actresses must face when trying to ?make it? in the industry.
Teatro Luna was created in Chicago in 2000 by Coya Paz and Tanya Saracho, both performing members of the cast and directors of the play. They, along with the rest of the ensemble, Nilsa Reyna, Marisabel Suarez, and Diane Herrera, wrote, created, choreographed, and adapted every scene from their own life stories.
Hispanic Heritage Month has brought a slew of cultural events to our campus, but none have been so entertaining as ?The Maria Chronicles.? Salsa classes and craft workshops have nothing on the witty banter of the ?Chronicles? cast.
After an introductory explanation that ?truth is stranger than fiction when you?re a Latina auditioning in Chicago,? the first scene began by ?breaking down? stereotypes in entertainment.
Two cast members played casting directors auditioning Latinas for ?High School Undercover,? during which they asked the auditionees to ?act tough? or ?more Hill District and less Shadyside.? Several of the scenes were set up like this, where the casting directors asked for more stereotypical, generic Latinas with a stronger accent so that they could play the exotic friend of the star or the quiet, sexy maid. One girl had to get down and show her floor-scrubbing technique.
The official statement on Jennifer Lopez had the audience cracking up. One side of the stage supported Lopez as a role model while the other made fun of her voluptuous curves. They even went so far as to draw her most famous asset on the board and cross it out, much to the audience?s delight.
This led into several longer scenes about the infamous Hispanic curves. One scene, titled ?Piece of Ass,? had the actresses dancing facing opposite of the audience to give them the best view possible. Then there was a ?booty workout? in which audience members joined the cast to learn moves to increase their gluteus maximus. Then the cast staged a mock protest where they carried signs proclaiming, ?Nalgonas Unidas,? ?Down with Crack, Up with Butts,? and ?Big Butts Unite!?
Next, one member of mixed ethnicity performed a monologue about her pelo malo, which prevented her from identifying with other Puerto Ricans. Her Africana hair refused to straighten and prevented her from obtaining Latina roles. The casting directors suggested she wear cornrows. As one of the more serious scenes, it provoked more sympathy from the audience then the usual comedy.
The play ended with a scene similar to the one which began it, a breakdown of a Latina character, but this time there were no stereotypes. Each actress described herself as an individual and not just as a Latina. By exposing the preconceived notions and prejudices of the acting community, they hoped to affect the larger world where young Hispanic women only look to movies and the media for role models.