Monday, 26 October 2009 21:08

Soledad y Esperanza (2005)

Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya (FOMMA) is run by Petrona de la Cruz Cruz and Isabel Juárez Espinosa in Chiapas, Mexico. Their programs educate indigenous women and children in Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Spanish as well as offering an extensive array of vocational skills and theater workshops. FOMMA also provides services like childcare, women's rights education and healthcare. Partly based on Isabel's life, their play Soledad y Esperanza is the story of two young indigenous sisters who have suffered physical and emotional abuse throughout their lives. Esperanza dreams of an education and of life in the big city. But her older sister Soledad denies her the chance to go to school and instead forces her to work as a maid for a dominating mestiza in the city. Despite the challenges she faces in this environment, Esperanza falls in love with Juan, the gardener. Once they're married, Juan and his new family return to his community, where he owns fertile lands that promise economic stability. Their happiness is short-lived, however, as Juan is brutally murdered by enemies who desire his property. Esperanza, alone and pregnant, sees no future in staying there. She decides to leave on an uncertain journey towards the border, dreaming of a better life.

Published in FOMMA: Works

"Prehispanic Cabaret" is an act of protest against multinational agricultural biotechnology corporations (such as Monsanto) whose introduction of genetically-modified corn into Mexican agriculture severely threatens the country's intangible cultural heritage by all but eliminating natural corn. "We are corn people," says writer, director and performer Jesusa Rodríguez, who has been politically active in in the uphill battle against the government-backed corporations. This cabaret, unlike most of Jesusa and Liliana's work at El Hábito, is largely non-verbal; it is Liliana's mordant lyrics that give voice to Jesusa's symbolic body onstage as she becomes an indigenous woman, a character in a codex, a peasant, and finally the figure of Death. "Cabaret Prehispánico" was performed at the Francisco Nunes theater in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as a part of the 5th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, titled "Performing 'Heritage': Contemporary Indigenous and Community-Based Practices." The performance is followed by a Q&A session, where Jesusa tells the audience that the Death character, besides throwing handfuls of corn up into the air and onto the stage, was also supposed to throw (fake) hundred-dollar bills -- except they were stolen at the airport. Jesusa also reveals that this show (performed only once before, in New York) marks the end of their 15-year trajectory at El Hábito. "There is an abyss behind us and an abyss before us, and we need to take a break to think about where we go from here," she says.

Published in El Hábito: Works
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