By Carlos von Son
The theater’s impact is felt in all its power with outstanding performances. Drama students at Cal State San Marcos are currently reviving the power of theater. Directed by Marcos Martínez, the talented drama students are now playing “La víctima” [The Victim] at the university campus. The drama group La Esperanza of Santa Barbara wrote the play in 1976. Spanish is the presentation’s language; and the actors offer information in brief historic summaries both in English and in Spanish. However, the non-Hispanic-language audience does not find understanding the plot difficult, nor feeling the emotions transmitted by the passionate actors.
The play is about a family of Mexican immigrants during several generations. The American Government exhibits unfair and discriminatory treatment towards Mexicans.
The story begins with the crude reality of the first generation of immigrants that had to leave their country during the bloody Mexican Revolution of 1910 and ends with the political activism of the 70’s. The audience feels the pain of the protagonists that endure family separations, political and ideological manipulations, and unrelenting discrimination and maltreatment through decades that become a pattern.
Mexican writers have stated that their people have a unique attitude: Mexicans deal with tragedy with a smile on their faces. We see this trait in the play when the characters suffer injustice after injustice and they still handle life with a deep sense of humor. However, after making the audience laugh several times, Samuel Mendoza (Omar Yánez), the main character, is separated from his mother in a train station in California when Mexicans were expelled from the country. Samuel is adopted by the Mendoza family, and joins the military. After the Korean War, Samuel becomes a Border Patrol Officer and persecutes his own people. Amparo Villa (Diana Cabuto) is captured by Samuel and sent back to Mexico. The power of Omar Yánez’ performance makes the audience shiver and tremble, and opens the way for Diana Cabuto’s genuine tears to reach the audience. Their outstanding performance guide the audience from innocent laughs to profound anger to the deepest sadness.
In the end, after reflecting on the play, we are left with hope. Antonia (Nadia Cabuto) has become a strong activist and fights for human rights. Nadia Cabuto’s passion is contagious, and creates political consciousness when she transcends shallow consumerism represented by her brother Meño (Gabriel Morales). Then we realize that, one way or another, we are all the victim.
In the end, the originality of the stage, the exceptional work of directing by Marcos Martinez, and the superb performance by this unique drama troupe offer the public a breathtaking theatrical experience. Well done! Let’s hope that we will have more theater in Spanish, and of such high quality.
The play will be performed at 8 p.m., April 22 and 23, in Arts Building 111, UC San Marcos. In San Diego, the play will be performed at 8 p.m., Friday, April 29, at the City Heights Weingart Branch Library. More information about the San Diego performance is available at 619/641-6100.
Admission is $5 for students and $10 for the public. Proceeds go to help support the university’s theatre program. For directions and/or more information, please call (760) 750-4137or 4150.