feminist performance (cabaret)
Friday, 30 October 2009 21:01

Trucho (2003)

Concert by Liliana Felipe, presenting the release of her album Trucho. "Trucho," an Argentinean adjective meaning "pirate," "illegal," "precarious," "devalued" or "false," encapsulates Felipe's critique on current hemispheric socio-political issues, while dedicating her songs to the "nobodies" (the dispossessed, the disempowered) of Latin America. Songs like "Como Madame Bovary,' "Pobre gente," "Soñé," "La extranjera," "Si por el vicio," "Tertuliano," "Memoria Mnemosina," "No te lo puedo decir," "Las histéricas" and "Tienes que decidir," among others, are performed and commented by Felipe; the encore features Jesusa Rodríguez singing with Felipe a theatrical and comical version of a traditional Mexican huapango. The singers play with diverse vocal registers along with the syllables that form the name of the volcano Popocatepetl, putting the revered song on its head. The couple then sings "Mujeres del campo," a hymn composed for a series of workshops conducted with indigenous Mexican peasant women in the summer of 2002. Felipe ends the concert with the tango "Lo que vos te merecés" by request of her audience, which that night included writer Elena Poniatowska, publicist Berta "la Chaneca" Maldonado, curator Montserrat Pecanins, actress Ofelia Medina, and deputy Beatriz Paredes, among other renown intellectual, artistic and political figures of current Mexico City public sphere.

Published in El Hábito: Works
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 22:37

Ensalada León Felipe (1991)

This is a hand-held video documentation of an evening of cabaret performance at El Hábito in 1991. It is not a play, but rather a free-flowing interaction between the performers/hostesses and the audience. Liliana Felipe walks on stage wearing a Viking hat and a skin-tight blue bodysuit, helping "Pita Amor" (an elderly Mexican poetess, played by Jesusa Rodríguez) to her seat. While Liliana plays well-known songs from her repertoire, Pita Amor reads poems, jokes with the audience, orders Liliana around, and comments on everything from love, to the government, to feminism, all peppered with the periodical request for "un drink" and her repeated assertion "How I hate physical decay!" Among the audience members are Marta Lamas, founder and director of Debate Feminista (a leading feminist journal in Mexico) and Elena Poniatowska, one of Mexico's most renowned literary figures, about whom Liliana sings a song at the end of the show. This video is a testimony to the kind of space El Hábito is: a hotbed for intellectuals, feminists, gay rights activists and open-minded, progressive people who want to be engaged by a smart and critical humor.

Published in El Hábito: Works
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 21:37

El derecho de abortar (1998)

Monica 'Lengüinsky' (played by Jesusa Rodríguez) flees to Mexico during the Clinton scandal, becomes a TV writer, and produces 'El Derecho de Abortar,' a show that is a cross between a 'pastorela' (Nativity play) and a 'telenovela' (soap opera). This 'pastonovela' features Virgin Mary and Joseph of Nazareth as two wealthy Mexicans tormented by the ambiguous sexuality of their cross-dressing son, Jesus Christ. In a failed attempt to 'straighten him out,' they employ a prostitute ('María Magdalena' Lengüinsky), who ends up discovering that Jesus is really a hermaphrodite, that he is pregnant, and that the father of his unborn child is St. Joseph himself. When Jesus gets an abortion, Lengüinsky sees her chance to profit from the situation: she blackmails the Holy Family by threatening to go public with the truth about Jesus.Putting their own social status first (including Joseph's political career as a candidate to the Mexican presidency), the Holy Family decides to sacrifice Jesus and sells Lengüinsky the copyright to all images of the crucifixion. 'El Derecho de Abortar' is a poignant satirical commentary on the corruption, intolerance, and contradictory morality at work in the catholic-capitalist society of Mexico.

Video Inserts: Video inserts for cabaret piece "El Derecho de Abortar." Monica "Lengüinsky" (played by Jesusa Rodríguez) flees to Mexico during the Clinton scandal, becomes a TV writer, and produces "El Derecho de Abortar," a show that is a cross between a "pastorela" (Nativity play) and a "telenovela" (soap opera).

HIDVL Video Holdings

El derecho de abortar (full performance, embedded below)
El derecho de abortar (performance video inserts)

Published in El Hábito: Works
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:49

Donna Giovanni (1987)

"Donna Giovanni," Jesusa Rodríguez's adaptation for the theater of Mozart and Da Ponte's opera "Don Giovanni," is a renowned feminist rendition of the classic by Mexican theater company Divas A.C. Directed by Rodríguez and with musical direction by Alberto Cruzprieto, the play successfully toured Latin America, the United States and Europe, receiving much critical acclaim. "Donna Giovanni" masterfully utilizes humor, overlapping layers of cross-dressing, and the interplay between music, wordplay and tableaux vivants in order to pose a feminist commentary on sensuality, gender issues, and religious and cultural scenarios of love, deceit, empowerment and desire.

Published in El Hábito: Works
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:37

Cabaret prehispánico: Cielo de abajo (1992)

This two-woman, one skeleton "prehispanic" cabaret follows the trajectory of a soul traversing the nine levels of a pre-Hispanic underworld. An indigenous woman mourns her dead lover, and decides to go to "el cielo de abajo" (the sky below) to look for her. The journey roughly follows the route mapped out in the Nahuas' sacred text "Popul Voh," as well as in Alfredo López Austin's book "Cuerpo humano e ideología: Las concepciones de los antiguos nahuas" (The Human Body and Ideology: The Ideas of the Ancient Nahuas). The script, partly Spanish and partly Nahuatl (the language of the so-called Aztecs) is loosely based on a prehispanic conception of the afterlife of mortal souls during their arduous trip to their final resting place. Ultimately, this cabaret performance poses a poetic exploration of love, gender, seduction, sacrifice, and death.

Published in El Hábito: Works
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:21

Big Mother: El Gran Desmadre (2002)

In this farcical cabaret performance, the "Four Horsewomen of Apocalypse" perform humanity's war against nature, in a "metaphysical" reflection on terrorism, surveillance, and the society of spectacle. After the terrorist attacks to New York on September 11, 2001, "a hope for war is reborn," along with the imminent and "longed annihilation of nature." A group of women volunteer to be locked up at Mega Corporation headquarters ("a product of the global fusion of the market of perfect self-competition"), in a sorts of "reality TV" show where metaphysical debates juxtapose with beauty contests, bureaucratic limbos, and theatrical last suppers. "Reach Your Metaphysics 2002" is a beauty pageant where the Four Horsewomen -representing Hunger, Epidemy, War, and Death- are confronted with philosophical questions: what is knowledge? Will? Conscience? The fate of the human species? The contestants then turn into secretaries of a government office where, between gossip and slaking off, they intend to finish their evaluation reports to Mega on how their Ministries (of Abundance, Peace, Truth, and Love) have contributed to the corporation's goal and achievement of "joyfully destroying" nature and humanity. The women then turn into a satiric version of Federico García Lorca's "House of Bernarda Alba" dramatic characters, in a supper where the daughters insist in getting Bernarda to tell them "The Truth" confesses that she is Mother Nature, the Big Mother, who created her offspring in order to mirror and contemplate herself. The kaleidoscopic play of gazes is thus multiplied, in a vortex of surveillance where Big Mother echoes Big Brother, both as George Orwell's "1984" dystopia and as Mexico's homonymous reality TV show. "Metaphysically aggravated," the Horsewomen murder Mother Nature and, left with a barren planet, embark in "a crusade against alien (extraterrestrial) terrorism."

Video Inserts: Performance video inserts for "Big Mother: El Gran Desmadre." Here included are: newscast footage of the terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center in New York City; a spot advertising and introducing Mega Corporation ("a product of the global fusion of the market of perfect self-competition") in its "crusade against terrorism;" three Mexican soap opera excerpts; an infomercial by a well-known Mexican actor; a mock newsflash on Big Mother's surveillance cameras (installed in order to observe the Mexican population, looking for possible terrorists against sovereignty of the State); and a spot of "Bernarda Alba's daughters" in a barren land, waving the Mexican flag. All these footage excerpts complement the show's "metaphysical" reflection on terrorism, surveillance, and the society of spectacle, in a sort of "reality TV" show where metaphysical debates juxtapose with beauty contests, bureaucratic limbos, and theatrical last suppers, searching for Truth amidst a war on Nature and Humanity.

Published in El Hábito: Works
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 21:59

Cabaret prehispánico at the Guggenheim (2004)

Jesusa Rodríguez presents a version of Cabaret prehispánico at the Guggenheim Museum as part of The Aztec Empire, an exhibition that included performances by both Rodríguez and Guillermo Gomez-Peña.

'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.

Published in El Hábito: Works
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 16:49

La soldadera autógena (2001)

icon Soldadera autógena (esp) (46.58 kB)

"¡Viva la revolución genética y sexual!"
"Long live the genetic and sexual revolution!"

Using the figure of the Soldadera, the woman warrior made famous during the Mexican Revolution, Jesusa Rodriguez proclaims her manifesto for a sexual and genetic revolution. No need any longer to divide humanity into him and her. Now, we can be him and her in one body, "dos presentaciones en un mismo envase."

Ya estuvo bueno, pues’n, más vale que me vengan a mí a aplaudir. ¡Ahora sí, hijos de su centrifugada incubadora! ¡Vamos a ver lo que es bueno! Y además, alguien que se me arrime, que se las paso a vivipartir. Buenas las tengan, y si no, pos lástima. Ahorita como quiera lo que importa es leerles este panfleto, un documento que mal que les pese mi analfabetizadez’n, total y al cabo, su presidente Vicente Fuck, no tiene mejor verbabulario que yo.

Y aquí desde este tribunal que mi regimiento y yo hemos tomado, porque ya nos cansamos de que el poder se mantenga depositado a plazo fijo y estado permanentes’n. Por eso, pa’ liberar al pueblo de la estupidización, el consumio, la multimedia, la polimedia y toda esa parafranela —¡ya estuvo bueno!— hemos hecho, provocado y proconsabido, conseguido el triunfo de nuestra revolución genética. Ahora, ¿en qué consiste, verdad? Repitan conmigo, (saca pistola) "¡No a la Represión! ¡Viva la Comandante Esther! ¡Chingue su madre Diego de Blancos de Ceballos! ¡Viva la revolución genética y sexual! ¡Viva el Proyecto Genoma y la transexualización de Truacti la Ambigua!" O como dijo William Burroughs, "las revoluciones cambian algunas costumbres, pero dejan la mierda intacta". Ojo, fíjense bien y analicen, mis queridas soldaderas’n. "No tiene sentido la revolución", dice Burros. "Creo que un cambio verdadero debe implicar un cambio drástico, como cuando los peces comenzaron a salir del agua". Vámonos analizando, pues’n, yo digo. Si las piedras se volvieron amíbas’n, ¿por qué nosotros no íbamos a trasmutar? Pos qué caray, eh. Hoy por hoy, gen por gen, hemos transunstantivado nuestro ácido revivonoxinucleido, ¡¡y a simple vista se nos nota que los revolucionarios de hoy semos andróginos!! O séase, que ni hombres ni mujeres, sino que somos hombres y mujeres al mismo tiempo. Dos presentaciones en el mismo envase. Dos personas en un solo cuerpo. Un solo cuerpo vuelto pareja. Semos todos hermafroditas’n. ¡Y eso nos congratula, compañeros, nos llena de regocijo! ‘Ora sí se acabó el machismo y se acabó el feminismo y todas esas babosadas de las reguerías y las budeces, ¡puras mamadas’n! Se acabó la desigualdad entre hombres y mujeres’n. ¡Compañeros, compañeras, o compañeres’n! ‘Ora semos una y otra al mismo tiempo, ¡y decretamos la abolición de la familia! ¡Ya estuvo bueno! Nada de los valores sagrados de la familia, ni... ¡Puras mamadas! Es más, voy a cantarles una canción que dice así: (Canta, con Liliana al piano, la canción "Expresidentes". El coro es: "Ay ay ay ay, ¿dónde andarán esos hojetes que vinieron a robar?") Pinches culeros, ésos no son hermafroditas. ¡Son monocotiledóneos! Pero bueno, estábamos en otro tema. ¿Qué nos importan los expresidentes? Estos güeyes son sexualidades inferiores. ¡Viva el libre albedrío! ¡Viva la cópula de autoservicio! Semos el futuro, mal que les vuelva a pesar. Y en revisionar la historia del pasado, notaremos que la gran mayoría de nuestros héroes jueron andróginos. A saber, José María Morelos-- Morelos, José María. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Guadalupe Victoria. Emiliano Zapata. Ahí lo tienen, si la historia lo tiene muy claro. Semos productos de esta revolufia que hoy celebramos y cuyo máximo producto y logro se consolida en su naturaleza violenta y traviesa, amarga y dulzona, ni fría ni caliente, ¡¡pero mucho menos tibia, compañeres!! Hoy nos hacemos el manicure mientras nos afeitamos el bigote. Cambiamos pañales mientras arreglamos el mofle. Comemos mazapanes chopeados en chamois. Y jugamos a las matapenas en mitad de las charreadas. ¡Compañeros y compañeres revolucionaries! Al mismo tiempo compañeros y compañeras, ¡compañeres! Albergo en mi seno ambos miembros. Al chofer de la combi y al a doncella de Orleans. Al popo y al ista. Y al activar el doble espíritu motor en el vientre de nuestra humanidad --y pésimamente mal al que le vuelva a pesar-- ¡no cederemos ni un paso! ¡No daremos ni un paso atrás en lo que a reitraitación se refiere! Porque yo conmigo semos marido y mujer, únicos e indivisibles, y todo aquel que quiera sumarse a las huestes andrógines hermafrodites, preséntese inmediatamismo de Deguaitepey, donde se le consagrará la doble sexualidad istmo facto. ¡Pa’ algo soy la soldadera autógena pues’n! Y ustedes concederán su doble sexualidad inmediata presentando las presentación de 3 cocholatas de refrescos de cola, su genoma desdoblado, y la convicción de que están dispuestos, dispuestas y y dispuestes, a ingresar a una etapa superior de la evolución humana. Y ahora sí, querides compañeres, a gozar de este bonito corrido, que dice así: Rosita se transexuó...

Published in El Hábito: Works
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 19:26

Primero sueño (2007)

Primero Sueño was performed by Jesusa Rodríguez as a part of the 6th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, celebrated in June of 2007 in Buenos Aires, Argentina under the title CORPOLÍTICAS en las Ámericas / Body Politics in the Americas: Formations of Race, Class and Gender. Rodríguez performs a fragment of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruzs 17th century poem, Primero Sueño, which the poet confesses was the only poem she ever wrote for pleasure and for herself. As she strips away the levels of the poem, she also strips away her clothes. (The initial version of the piece, performed at the 2002 Encuentro in Lima, Perú, had been titled Striptease de Sor Juana [Sor Juana Striptease]).


icon Primero Sueño (esp) (108.92 kB)

icon Primero Sueño (eng) (1.42 MB)


Piramidal, funesta, de la tierra
nacida sombra, al Cielo encaminaba
de vanos obeliscos punta altiva,
escalar pretendiendo las Estrellas;
si bien sus luces bellas
--exentas siempre, siempre rutilantes--
la tenebrosa guerra
que con negros vapores le intimaba
la pavorosa sombra fugitiva
burlaban tan distantes,
que su atezado ceño
al superior convexo aun no llegaba
del orbe de la Diosa
que tres veces hermosa
con tres hermosos rostros ser ostenta,
quedando sólo o dueño
del aire que empañaba
con el aliento denso que exhalaba;

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