“The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans”

A staged reading will be presented on April 5

Joe Rivers

Joe Rivers (1892-1957) was born Jose Ybarra, in Los Angeles, California. Photo courtesy of George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — UCR ARTSblock presents “The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans: A Staged Reading,” written by Virginia Grise and Ricardo A. Bracho, on Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. in the Culver Center of the Arts, located in the 3800 block of Main Street in downtown Riverside.

In 1910, the Mexican Revolution began against the autocratic rule of Porfirio Diaz. In 1911, famed socialist author Jack London published a short story, “The Mexican,” which details a Mexican boxer’s journey from Veracruz, Mexico, to joining a revolutionary junta in El Paso, Texas, and ultimately to a prizefight in Los Angeles. “The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans” is a theatrical retelling of London’s short story by two renowned queer Chicano playwrights, Virginia Grise and Ricardo A. Bracho. The performance, which will include actors reading from a script, with minimal stage movement, will feature Ryan Vincent Anderson, Elisa Bocanegra, Sam Breen, Zilah Mendoza, Martin Morales, Juan Parada, Sarita Ocon, Deb Vargas, and Juan Villa. Dr. Tiffany Ana López, UCR Professor of Theatre and Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair, has organized the event.

The staged reading will take place in the Black Box Studio at UCR Culver Center of the Arts . The dramatists will participate in a post-production talk back, or Q & A, with the audience after the performance. Arrive early as reservations are not accepted and seating is limited.

Lopez says about the staged reading, “Virginia Grise and Ricardo Bracho are two leading artists working at the forefront of American and U.S. Latina/o theatre. Their new work uses textual smash up, humor, and provocation to boldly invite audiences to revisit a classic work of American literature while also imagining its import across time, most especially how its representation of Mexicans and what it means to be Mexican has been received in different perhaps even disparate ways by a wide-ranging readership. I’m very excited to be the producer of this staged reading and see the work performed for the Riverside community as part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Tomás Rivera Conference.” (See tomasriveraconference.ucr.edu)

“The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans: A Staged Reading” is a collaboration between the UCR ARTSblock; the UCR theater department; the Culver Arts Research Laboratory (CARL) Residency Project; and UCR faculty: Tiffany Ana Lopez, professor of theatre ; Deb Vargas, associate professor of ethnic studies ; Erica Edwards, associate professor of English; Keith Harris, associate professor of media and cultural studies; and Jennifer Doyle, professor of English and director of the Queer Lab.

About Tiffany Ana Lopez

Tiffany Ana López is professor of theatre and Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Her research, teaching, and creative activities focus on issues of trauma and violence and the role of the arts in personal healing and community building. Among her publications, she is editor of the anthology “Growing Up Chicana/o” (William Morrow & Co., 1993) and Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (2005-2012). She has also published in numerous books and journals, including Theatre Journal, Art Journal, Aztlan, and Frontiers. She is also a faculty advisory board member for the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts. Among her awards, López is a 2004 Fulbright Scholar to Spain and the recipient of grants from the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation for her work on intellectual diversity and the creative arts. She is presently working on a monograph with visual artist Barbara Carrasco and completing a book project, The Alchemy of Blood. As a dramaturge and community artist,  López has collaborated with theaters such as The Mark Taper Forum, The Latino Theater Company, Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, and Company of Angeles.

About Virginia Grise & Ricardo A. Bracho

Virginia Grise is a working artist living in Brooklyn, New York where her neighbors mistake her for Puerto Rican. The daughter of a working class white father from Goshen, Indiana, her mother a Chinese-Mexican immigrant, she grew up thinking everyone she liked was Mexican and that brown was magic. An anarcho-feminist from deep in the heart of Texas, she has chosen Ricardo A. Bracho to be her sparring partner (por vida, it’s true). They spend many hours fists clenched in heated debates, laughing over meals, and contemplating the many ways that they can ensure that the Revolution will go on.

Ricardo A. Bracho is Visiting Multicultural Faculty at The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. A lifelong Marxist, he has been making theater for over twenty years and practicing homosexuality for over twenty-five. He was co-producer and dramaturge of the world premiere of Virginia Grise’s blu; she has served as director, actor and dramaturge on his play Puto. The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans emerged from a 2010 Thanksgiving retreat in her downtown LA apartment in which they fed about twenty artists, academics and organizers. Thus, La Colectiva Chorizo y Maguey was born. Respect and recognize, gente.

La Colectiva Chorizo y Maguey is Ricardo A. Bracho and Virginia Grise. La Colectiva Chorizo y Maguey began, as most things Mexican and good do, in a kitchen. While doing the dishes, a brown leftist homosexual playwright asked another brown leftist homosexual playwright what the people needed from theater. The response: “Chorizo y Maguey.” Since that time Bracho and Grise have presented a staged reading of Bracho’s Puto in Los Angeles, the world premiere of Grise’s blu at Company of Angels and have worked collaboratively on the theatrical retelling of a Jack London short story, The Mexican, into a staged performance that they call The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans, which has been presented as a staged reading at Company of Angels and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and received a workshop production last fall at DePaul University directed by Bracho. All libidinal power to the people!

About The Mexican

The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans is a theatrical retelling of an overlooked short story by the important literary figure, Jack London. London wrote the short story The Mexican while reporting on the Mexican Revolution from the border town of El Paso, Texas. It was first published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1911. The filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein worked as a set designer and director on a stage adaptation of the play presented by the First Proletkult Workers Theatre in Moscow. In this 1920 adaptation, the event of the boxing match lasting seventeen rounds was restaged in its entirety.

The Mexican as Told by Us Mexicans retains London’s original language and follows a boxer who leaves civil war-torn Mexico for Texas, with the unspoken hope of avenging his family and nation by literally fighting for the revolutionary cause as a prizefighter in a highly publicized, and racialized, bout with a legendary white boxer in California.

The latter half of the short story, and subsequently, the play by Grise and Bracho, takes up the negotiations towards the big match and the story’s great set piece – a fierce battle told from multiple perspectives: Rivera, his opponent, their respective coaches and figures in the crowd. Significantly, Rivera while in the ring recalls the horrific death of his parents at anti-revolutionary hands as his own hands are locked in a battle in which he eventually triumphs, allowing in London’s words, for “the revolution to go on.”

UCR ARTSblock is located at 3824 & 3834 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501, and includes three venues: California Museum of Photography, Culver Center of the Arts, and Sweeney Art Gallery, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5:00pm, plus 6:00pm-9:00pm for First Thursday ArtWalks. Admission is $3.00, which includes entry to all three venues, and is free during First Thursday ArtsWalk (6pm-9pm). For film screenings, Culver Center opens 30 minutes prior to the start time. http://artsblock.ucr.edu.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
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Additional Contacts

Tyler Stallings
Tel: (951) 827-1463
E-mail: tyler.stallings@ucr.edu

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