On Sunday May 3, 2015 the Zapoteco community of Madera California held a theatrical presentation titled A Zapoteco Immigrant Story of One, Reality of All. The play took place at the Madera Courthouse Park and was the second part of the play Fandango Zapoteco presented in 2013. A Zapoteco Immigrant Story of One, Reality of All tells the story of a young man named Felipe, a native of a small town named Coatecas Altas located in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca Mexico. The purpose of this theatre was to show the journey that Felipe, like many other immigrants, had to go through in order to immigrate to this country. In the play, different circumstances force Felipe to migrate and leave behind everything including his wife Elena, his four children, his mother and father, and ultimately his hometown.
The play also highlighted the struggles that Felipe had to face crossing the dessert and even once he arrived in the United States. The struggles of isolation, loss of culture, loneliness and depression were some of Felipe’s greatest challenges but he eventually overcame them and was able to reunite with his wife and children.
During the play the audience was able to witness Zapoteco youth acting and playing key roles throughout. The story was told in Spanish and Zapoteco (our native language) as well as translated to english. The play was narrated in the character of Carmen “the gossip woman of the town” that told the audience everything about Felipe’s family and their journey. The overall tone of the play was fun and lively even if the story we were telling was a sad one. The audience laughed and most importantly saw their stories reflected throughout the play.
This is exacly my story, this is what I lived through twelve years ago, said Maria Perez as she watched the play and laughed along with the rest of the audience.
The Zapoteco Immigrant Story… play is part of the Tamejavi Culture and Arts Series 2015, it was coordinated by myself as a fellow, and my learning group. It was a great experience to be able to re-create the hometown on stage and to tell our story, the story of our people, and to see the audience come together to watch and be a part of this event. This theatre presentation involved a long process of Participatory Action Research and Cultural inventory, as well as trainings, scrip writing, and many learning group meetings and planning with the Pan Valley Institute staff. In the end this presentation served its purpose to bring the community together and increase leadership in our indigenous youth that don’t always have spaces to share their stories.
This event was the second public presentation in a series of nine events. For more information visit the Tamejavi website (www.tamejavi.org) of the American Friends Service Committee Pan Valley Institute.