By Luis Alonso Pérez
Latinologues, the highly acclaimed comedy riot created, written, and directed by Rick Najera, is back in San Diego for one night only on June 25 at Spreckels Theatre. A one time chance to laugh your heart out and experience what Najera describes as a “journey into the Latino comic psyche.”
With every show, Latinologues remixes and reinvents itself, with a long list of rotating cast members, which means that every night you see about eleven different characters out of more than a hundred monologues written so far. “(the show) is like Latinos, changing constantly” said Najera.
With characters like Fidel, the border crosser and Buford Gomez, the Texan border patrol officer, we have to admire our ability lo laugh at ourselves. Each monologue is a celebration of diversity for a new generation of Americans and the beginning of a new kind of American culture. “Some are very intellectual, some are more cultural and others are just gut-busting funny” said Latinologue’s creator.
Characters are very real and they come from everyday life inspiration according to Najera, this way he feels characters are much richer. For example, for his monologue Typical Mexican mother, where Eugenio Derbéz plays a vampire’s mom, he was inspired by a conversation he once had:
“A woman once told me said Najera my daughter in law called me and said that “chato” beat her. And I said… well what did you do to him? You know, typical Mexican mother. he added Like the ones I see in Univision news when they interview a mother in a barrio saying my boy is not a gang banger, he is a good boy and you will see the guy right behind her throwing gang signs.”
Rick Najera is one of the most talented and hardest working people in Latin show business. He’s had four plays published, written sketches for Mad TV and In Living Color, but the reason he chose monologues is because its the simplest form between an audience and the actor, and like most people, characters want to be understood.
“The monologue is one person in front of a large audience saying: this is my story, understand me” said Latinologue’s creator.
There is also another advantage to a monologue-style play with a rotating cast, because if you’ve seen the show already, maybe next time you can see someone you haven’t seen, or a monologue you haven’t heard before. But it has a lot of the same material too, because most times half of the audience is returning people bringing their friends, so they want to see the ones they were told about.
Top names in Latino entertainment have been a part of the show, like Edward James Olmos, Eric Estrada, Maria Conchita Alonso, Cristina and Eugenio Derbez. Touring all over the country and producing a recently released DVD. For the San Diego show, they are adding Jacob Vargas to the crew.
Latinologues has been an important showcase for Latino actors. According to Najera, a lot of times when actors are in the show, they get TV and film work from it, and that’s great, because. “There are very few opportunities for Latin actors to be seen, to be heard, to practice their craft, to be paid and to travel the country. And for the audience to have something to say this is part of the theatrical experience of my culture, this is my story” said the show’s headman.
“When you see television or film, less that zero point five percent are Latinos in leading rolls, which means there’s more dinosaurs or extraterrestrials in leading rolls than Latinos” said Najera.
For more information on Latinologues, and to find out about their San Diego tour date June 25, 2005 at Spreckels Theatre, visit their web site www.latinologues.net