A Side of Homogenized Salsa: Latina Canadian Drama

(This article consists of excerpts from an MA Thesis by author Jill Edmondson, with a focus upon plays by Carmen Aguirre, including ¿Qué pasa with La Raza, eh?, The Trigger, and The Refugee Hotel)

Equality, cultural identity and personal struggles are common themes in Canadian drama, and indeed are common themes in the literature of a post-colonial world. Another common theme in contemporary writing pertains to women’s issues: equality, sexism, gender roles, exploitation and the like frequently figure in modern drama and literature. These themes result in something of a kaleidoscopic head-on collision when one considers Latino Canadian drama through a feminist lens. The struggles and challenges immigrants face have been well documented by many contemporary authors; however, the field of Latino Canadian drama is relatively new, relatively young, and has not yet garnered the attention that other minority groups – say South Asian Canadian or Italian Canadian – have.

The Alameda Theatre Company in Toronto is probably as good an embarkation point as any in a study of Latino Canadian Theatre in general, and of women in Latino Canadian drama in particular. It was founded in 2006 by artistic director/actor/playwright Marilo Nunez, who was nominated in 2008 as one of the “Ten Most Influential Hispanic Canadians”. A creative trail-blazer, Marilo recognized a gap in local culture. The idea for the Alameda Theatre Company stemmed from her awareness of the lack of high quality, professional Latino Canadian theatre in Toronto. Thus, a new theatre company was formed.

According to the company’s website, part of Alameda’s mandate is “providing opportunities for Latin Canadian theatre artists and playwrights, and building audiences for their work.” Embedded within their mandate is the vision that “Latin American arts and artists are embraced by a broad Canadian community that is aware of, understands and respects the Latin-American Canadian experience.” Furthermore, in an au courant nod to political correctness, the Alameda Theatre Company – echoing just about every other organization that aspires to have an unblemished corporate conscience – states that their values include “equality, respect, solidarity, responsibility and integrity.” In support of their goal to reach out to Canadian audiences, and in support of their goal to create opportunities for Latino Canadian artists and playwrights, in April, Alameda hosts the De Colores Festival of New Works by Latino Canadian playwrights, now planning their third year.

In addition to the nascent success of the De Colores Festival, in September 2009, Alameda brought to the stage the world premiere of The Refugee Hotel by Carmen Aguirre. One of the bigger and better known names associated with Alameda, Carmen Aguirre is an accomplished actor, and is the author or co-author of more than a dozen plays, some of which have been directed by Marilo Nunez. Aguirre’s long-awaited The Refugee Hotel, produced by Marilo Nunez, is arguably one of Alameda’s biggest and most significant productions in 2009.

When one knows the story behind the script, it is easy to see why The Refugee Hotel is such a strongly personal play for Aguirre. The play is autobiographical and it details the experiences of her Chilean family’s arrival in Canada in 1974. Aguirre’s parents were both university professors and were both active in the revolutionary movement. Like the characters in the play, her family hid in safe houses during the Pinochet years, until they were able to escape to Canada. Arriving in Canada did not immediately free them from risk back home in Chile. Aguirre’s mother was black-listed, and trips back to Chile meant using a fake passport. In the years following their emigration, Carmen and her mother continued to be actively involved in Chilean political reform, each working at or running safe houses in Bolivia, Peru and Argentina (Posner).

There was a time that it seemed as though The Refugee Hotel would never have its opening night. In the Fall of 2003, a production of Refugee was in the works. The script and its staged reading had garnered enough attention and created enough of a buzz that director Ken Gass and Toronto’s Factory Theatre had slated it to be performed in the Spring of 2004. Aguirre called a halt to casting and auditions when the creative differences between herself and director Gass led to her publicly accusing Gass of racism (at worst) or of cultural insensitivity (at – nominally – best).

Carmen Aguirre’s concern stemmed from the selection of actors present at the auditions: there was only one actor of colour present, and the play features eight Chilean characters. Apparently, a later casting call included more visible minority actors, many of whom – though olive skinned – were not of Hispanic descent. The drama behind the drama proved to be irreconcilable and – after a minor imbroglio in the local press – Aguirre dimmed the lights on the planned production. The media imbroglio may have been relatively minor, but the issue of ethnicity in Latino Canadian theatre (as well as in other minority dramas) is anything but. As Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins note in Post-Colonial Drama:

As visual markers of ‘identity’, race and gender are particularly significant in theatrical contexts even if their connotations are sometimes highly unstable. It is crucial to remember, however, that such markers are inscribed on the body through discourse … rather than simply being unmediated or objectively given. … Moreover… race and gender are distinct … factors which cannot be collapsed under the conceptual umbrellas of marginalization (205).

It can be clearly seen why the issue of ethnicity and casting was of such import to Aguirre.

However, creative differences and imbroglios aside, five years later, The Refugee Hotel finally made it to the stage, running for eighteen days at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille. The fact that Refugee has finally been given life on stage should not eclipse or dismiss the conflict that erupted in 2003, for the real-life drama is emblematic of the many recurring themes in Latino Canadian drama. Ethnicity, racism, stereotypes, isolation, homogenization, cultural identity, marginalization and so on all figure prominently in Latino Canadian drama. To Aguirre, maintaining the authenticity of the characters was more than simply sticking to an artistic vision. Her point had more to do with staying true to Hispanic culture and heritage and acknowledging the common bonds among Latino immigrants to Canada.

It may also have been her way of saying “enough!” to the broadly sweeping brush of homogenization among immigrant groups in Canada. Ethnicity plays a key role in the migration and settlement experience, and is therefore a significant part of the story, whether in the news or on the stage. Indeed, casting choices in Refugee and other Latino Canadian plays go right to the heart of the discussion on ethnicity and equality, especially given the broad strokes of uniformity with which Latinos are painted in other aspects of their lives in their adopted Canadian home.

The Refugee Hotel tells the stories of the first Chilean refugees to arrive in Canada following the military coup in Chile in 1973. The family of Fat Jorge and Flaca arrives first. They are soon followed by others, each of whom has harrowing stories of torture and despair back home in their nation – a nation with more than 6,000 kilometres of coastline, spanning 38 degrees in latitude, with climatic variations giving rise to both deserts and alpine tundra. Its cultural diversity includes several native tongues, a mix of religions and a population comprised of indigenous peoples and European settlers.

Of course, none of these displaced characters in Refugee had known each other back home, but the Canadian social worker assigned to work with the Chilean refugees assumes they’re all old friends. However, once lumped together on foreign soil, and despite socio-cultural and geographic differences among them, the guests of the The Refugee Hotel become an ad-hoc family. This solidarity is not unusual among immigrants groups, as Janice Kulyk Keefer points out in “The Sacredness of Bridges”:

One of the salient features of multiculturalism has to do with what I would call the fraught continuum of immigrant experience. This continuum insists that while there cannot help but be a world of difference between the experiences of, say a Birmingham mechanic, a Trinidadian university student, a Bosnian refugee, all of whom immigrated to Canada at some point in the last 50 years, their common experience of displacement as opposed to specific instances of that experience – instances particularized by common factors of race, class gender, education – places them together on this continuum (99).

This kind of bonding is not limited to those who hail from the same nation within Latin America. The hands of friendship extend to others from various parts of the same continent or same geographic area. In another of Carmen Aguirre’s plays, ¿Qué pasa with La Raza, eh?, ethnicity is enough of a common denominator to germinate the seeds of friendship between a pair of young, new Canadians who meet at a party:

Julio: So, are you from… are you from Guatemala?
Skin: I’m from Chile.
Julio: Oh! It’s so good to be with Latinos again (90).

More than just thousands of miles separate the Tikal Temple of Mayan Guatemala from the Easter Island Giants of Chile, but this is of little consequence to the sense of belonging Julio harvests from his Latino brethren. The same can be said of Julio’s skin-based kinship with the aptly named Skin. At the end of the party, Julio waxes nostalgic and says “It’s been a long time since I’ve been with my compatriots” (92-93) and, yet, the guests at the party include Mexicans, Chileans, Guatemalans and Canadians.

As Anne Nothof says in “The Construction and Deconstruction of Border Zones in Fronteras Americanas by Guillermo Verdecchia and Amigo’s Blue Guitar by Joan MacLeod”, “the imposition of borders is an attempt to demarcate a secure and identifiable place for the validation and nurturing of a sense of self in terms of the shared values of a cohesive community” (1). Being able to identify one’s self in terms of nationality is of great import, but leads to confusion and a state of flux. Hyphenated labels, meant to be inclusive, can actually contribute to cultural confusion, and dig a deeper rut in the gutter of marginalization.

Carmen Aguirre has some fun with cultural binaries and fluidity in ¿Qué pasa with La Raza, eh? Dandelion and her boyfriend are two of the best examples of identity conflict. The boyfriend, Josh McDougall, is described as “that guy with the blond dreadlocks, Peruvian sweater, Guatemalan pants and Tibetan beads…” who plays both the bagpipes and a pan-pipe (73). Another character, Skin – a feisty Latina who has renounced her Canadian citizenship – acidly comments on the frivolity of McDougall’s inconsistent but internationally inclusive affectations. Skin says, “he could at least decide which culture he’s gonna appropriate from, or if he’s that desperate for a cultural identity, why doesn’t he try his own roots?” (73). The irony of her statement is blatant as each of the main characters in La Raza is him or herself struggling with dual identities, colliding cultures, and an ongoing search for roots. Skin vociferously expresses her views on ethnicity and identity during a rant as she prepares a speech for a student rally:

You can sure as hell bet they’re thinking, “Spic go home.” … Everywhere I look, I’m portrayed as a fuckin’ drug dealer `cause I’m a Latino. … We’re all of colour here, but we’re all of different colours… Shades that are threatening to them. … Back in my country, I am not considered a person of colour … (76).

Skin’s friend Dandelion is another Latina who dances a cultural two-step; she was born in Argentina, but grew up in Canada. Dandelion contradicts expectations at every turn. For one thing Dandelion (real name: Rocio Bernstein) is neither Catholic as her Latino colouring might indicate, nor Jewish as her surname might indicate, but is Buddhist. A young woman, Dandelion is interested in dating, but has difficulty meeting a man who has a background similar to hers. She considers using a dating service, which happens to be owned by her aunt. She discusses her dating “wish list” with her aunt Monica and specifies her desired criteria:

Dandelion: You could have at least … found me a guy, you know, Latino, but that has been here as long as me… so he’s kinda half and half, you know? …
Monica: What’s wrong with José?
Dandelion: He was too Latino, man! He was fucking fresh off the boat!
Monica: Don’t swear at your aunt…. You can never be too Latino. Latino is in the soul.
Dandelion: He was too macho, okay? …
Monica: Fresh off the boat? Oh, Rocio. Don’t be racist. …
Dandelion: He was too Latino. I wanted someone not so Latino, you know, like me, I’m not so Latina, but, you know-
Monica: That’s your problem! You’re not Latina enough (84).

When dating agency proprietor Monica Sonora Dinamita is first introduced, she is on the phone admonishing Charlie (“please call me Carlos”) for pretending to be Latino in order to be set up on dates with Latina women (81). It’s ironic that Monica chastises Charlie for opportunistically buying into cultural stereotypes on the dating scene when she herself has built a business that profits from the lovelorn among displaced Latinos. Monica says, “I knew there was a market for Latinos that cannot find Latinos like them in Canada” (96). Unasked, of course is the question: what does ‘like them’ mean? Defining the sense of self is something to which there just may not be an answer.

The bonds of ethnicity stretch and shrink in response to settings and situations. Among themselves, the characters in La Raza make distinctions about nationality while simultaneously celebrating brotherhood. In a scene quite the opposite of the scene involving racism among the border guards in Coyote, in Aguirre’s La Raza, a Latino driver picks up Rata, who has been walking along the highway after having sneaked across the USA border. The driver, a Chicano, says to Rata: “Hey! Hermano! Compadre! … Come on compadrito. We all look out for each other here” (63).

So, at times ethnicity creates a bond, but the bond is malleable. It is ironic later on when Rata makes distinctions about another Latino’s cultural identity:

Rata. You’re Canadian. … You were raised here. … Simple. You’re Canadian. Zap. I still look at myself in the mirror every morning wondering who the hell I am. Am I Mexican? Am I Canadian? Am I just plain Latino? Am I Mexican-Canadian? Am I Latino-Canadian? (80).

In an echo of characters and scenes in Carmen Aguirre’s The Refugee Hotel, Wendy – a gringa caricature in Beltran’s and Hernandez’s Coyote – makes assumptions about Hispanic people, foisting a cultural identity upon them, based on the belief that all Latinos have salsa coursing through their veins… the dance that is, not the sauce:

Wendy (in a whispered aside to Gabby): Listen: This is Mexico you idiot. This is what they do here. They dance. This chick-EE-tah is probably going to a club right after this and if we make nice she can point us in the right direction, or even have us tag along. It’s the only way you get to know a place, Gabby. By getting to know the natives (29).

Wendy’s willingness to befriend Latinos in order to appropriate their culture for the duration of her vacation is fleeting, as is indicated by her earlier wariness of them:
Everyone knows that things are way more dangerous here. This isn’t Buffalo. I mean, you can’t imagine that a bunch of poor Mexican street kids aren’t going to nab your massive handbag if you don’t have the smarts to carry a money belt. … And if you can’t see the difference here in Mexico, then you’re just plain stupid (27).

Speaking of stupid, it is an all too common occurrence that linguistic ability (or a lack thereof) is used as an indicator of mental acuity. ‘Stupid’ is what’s often assumed of Latinos (and other non-English speaking immigrants) who have not yet mastered English as a second language. Language is one of the first and most obvious links to culture and identity, and this theme is common in Latino Canadian drama. As and Tompkins note in Post-Colonial Drama:

Migration commonly involves linguistic displacements as well as physical and cultural dislocations. By presenting dialogue and/or narration in languages that are foreign to the dominant society, playwrights such as… Canada’s Guillermo Verdecchia express the ‘double vision’ which typically characterizes migrant experience (173).

Latino immigrants encounter linguistic ‘double vision’ from two directions: first they must learn English, and second they have to cope with the ignorance and arrogance with which non-Spanish speakers attempt to meet Latinos on their own linguistic turf. In addition to ‘double vision’, post-colonial drama also uses a process of what Gilbert and Tompkins refer to as ‘double hearing’:

In order to represent ‘foreign’ languages to a predominantly monolingual audience, some plays rely on the viewer’s participation in a paradoxical process of ‘double hearing’ which distinguishes between two planes of utterance (175). Aguirre relies on this in Refugee. The characters are all supposed to be Spanish speakers, and the audience accepts that English dialogue is actually another language.

The hurdles involved in developing the ability to communicate in a second language are obvious to displaced migrants, but obvious becomes oblivious when – well-intentioned or ignorant – members of the centre attempt to cross linguistic bridges via the shaky slats of stereotypes. As Anne Nothof says, “stereotyping is one way of demeaning through parody and ridicule, reducing complex social or cultural differences to a simplistic caricature” (3). At least in Latino Canadian drama, the playwrights have some fun with caricatures in reverse by making the “gringos” and “WASPs” at the centre the objects of ridicule.

In Carmen Aguirre’s The Refugee Hotel, the receptionist, the social worker, and Bill are each guilty of two linguistic faux pas. First, they raise the volume of their voices in the expectation that loudness will magically render the listener bilingual; second, they make ignorant assumptions about Latin based languages. They attribute the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation of one branch of the Latin-based language tree (French) to another linguistic branch (Spanish), and end up speaking an incomprehensible Spanglish-Frenglish hybrid:

Social Worker. Ici! Uh… le hotel! Tu stay ici until moi can place tu in a casa! Comprendez? (7).

As she shows them to their rooms, the social worker continues with her primitive gibberish:

Social Worker. Okay. Perfecto. A grande bed and dos chicos. Ici is where tu will sleep, uh siesta. Zzzzz. You have a kitchenette, comida, and there’s a Mercado just up the calle for to do your groceries. (Handing flaca some cash). Ici tu go. This should be enough for the next few dias. (Handing flaca her card) Ici is my card. If you have any pourquois, por favour call moi. Mi nombre es Pat. Pat Keleman (10).

Pat’s inability to navigate the communication chasm is coupled by exaggerated miming and hand gestures. In addition to her embarrassing attempt to speak in a way the refugees will understand, she takes all the dignity out of their exchange by reducing communication to a game of charades.

Pat Keleman is not the only character guilty of communicating this way. Bill O’Neill – a milky suburbanite poseur who fancies himself a radical social activist – does as well. He talks to the refugees in an incomprehensible pidgin comprised of baby talk and Frankenstein speak. He is well-intentioned and has done what he can to help the family find jobs and housing, but no matter how benevolent his objectives, he still subscribes to a manner of speech that is insulting to all present:

Bill. Okay-Oh, God me. You speak. … Okay. We find job at Fat Jorge….Job at you, Flaca, fish cannery, work all day. We find you home. Projects in Strathcona. That Chinatown. …You move tomorrow. … Interfaith Church donate furniture, bed, table, and chairs, things more. … Cakehead [Cristina]. Work all night on a bakery. Bake bread (88-89).

These sad linguistic parodies exist in a number of Latino Canadian plays. Playwright Marilo Nunez uses Lola Montez to drive home points about language and culture in the old days. Lola the showgirl greets the audience with a chorus of “Si! Olé!” and “How many of you caballeros are here to have a good time?” (24)

It seems there was no overlapping linguistic grace period after the Mexican American war, and that perhaps the war was the birthplace of Spanglish, or so it appears when Lola is at centre stage. It is interesting that these playwrights have used linguistic differences to their advantage, as such is not always the case. As Gilbert and Tompkins contend in Post-Colonial Drama:

In some cases words … may be glossed in ways which seem to make them accessible to non-speakers but which still refuse to provide all levels of meaning … Similarly, humour frequently functions in precisely this manner since it is the cultural codes of language as much as its specific semantic content that allow some listeners, and not others, to access irony, double entendres, certain nuances, and other potentially ludic meanings (172).

A brief but illustrative case in point is Lola’s use of ‘olé’ and ‘caballero’. The former specifically means ‘bravo’ and of course is out of context as she has used it; the latter means a knight, a nobleman or a cowboy, as well as a few other colloquial uses, none of which would necessarily fit with her application of it to the men in the audience at a dance hall in the Southern California of the mid-1800s.

Beltran and Hernandez also make a scathingly sharp but comical point about linguistic imperialism via the dialogue of Wendy, the ‘gringa’ on holiday in Mexico. On page 28, Wendy unveils her mask of nescience:

Wendy (to Jenny the waitress): Dose Sair-VES-Ahs pour fah-vor. … It’s important to speak their language. Otherwise you’re like any other dumb American who comes here. It was the same in Rio. Jeez, were they ever amazed when I began speaking Spanish. They thought I was clueless.
Gabby: I thought they speak Portuguese there.
Wendy: Whatever (28).

With very little effort, Wendy paints the myriad socio-cultural groups of Latin America with the same linguistic brush, and proves just how clueless she really is. The playwrights are clearly having fun here, not only in showcasing the gringa’s ignorance and general naiveté about people and places, but especially about language. Obliviously superior and superiorly oblivious, it is clear that poor Wendy has never heard of the Treaty of Tordesillas.

From pidgin to pigeon-holing: The marginalized status conferred upon immigrants, coupled with linguistic challenges, predictably results in the typecasting of Latino immigrants into low-end, dead-end, manuel labour in their adopted home. In “‘The Sacredness of Bridges’: Writing Immigrant Experience,” Janice Kulyk Keefer comments on the relationship between work, marginalization and goals:

The reality for the immigrant… is that distance is always double, if not multiple. One’s distance from the country and culture of origin is always measured in terms of losses as well as the gains one makes – that “better life” you promise your children, sacrificing your own happiness for theirs. And as a newcomer, a foreigner, you keep or are forced to keep your distance from the centre of things in the adopted country – “centre” being the place where those with power and agency … hold sway (102).

Distance from the centre is shown in Latino Canadian plays in an obvious yet telling manner: the occupations of the various characters are generally low level service jobs, despite whatever experiences or credentials the characters may have. In Refugee, former accountant Fat Jorge gets a job in a mill, someone else gets a job in a cannery, another becomes a gardener, one gets a job as a baker, and – in a writing decision requiring the audience to stretch their ability to suspend disbelief – a Hispanic woman gets hired as a cleaning lady!

Ostensibly, the play [Carmen Aguirre’s The Trigger] is about violence and the violation of the main character, but in many ways this is a representation of the bigger picture, or as Gilbert and Tompkins contend, “theatrical images of sexual violence can have more than merely illustrative functions; in some instances they also challenge the voyeuristic gaze of the white spectator, inviting him/her to admit complicity in that violence” (214).

The story is about survival and individual strength, and the physical nightmare is symbolic of the migrant’s experiences in both the native land and the adopted home. There is a metaphoric element of rape among many immigrants: rape of their identities and of their dreams. What they are willing to give is often at odds with what is taken from them: pride, dignity, and respect. Carmen’s father directs his impotent rage at their new country while simultaneously blaming his daughter for being raped by saying:

“What were you thinking? What were you thinking? … I hate this fucking country I hate this fucking country I hate this fucking country … Look at my girl, oh, God, look at my girl…” (38).

Carmen does not wrap herself in a blanket of bitterness, though, and, unlike her father, she manages to shelve her anger. A fighting spirit was ingrained in Carmen during her youth in South America. She is no stranger to conflict and violence; she alludes to having been exposed to it in her native country as a youngster:

“I had heard many bullets in my life thus far, but they were always outside” (32).

Carmen the young girl fantasizes about a lover with whom she would liberate and unite all of Latin America. In the fantasy, she would be “declared President of the Revolutionary Nations of Latin America and [her lover/husband would be] Minister of Defense” (28). It is ironic that in her dream-world she attains what is essentially the highest office of the region, but that her mate and partner is still deemed Minister of Defense. The foreshadowing is none too subtle, as later on it becomes clear that there was no one to protect and defend her when the rapist attacked her in the forest near her school.

The Trigger opens with a reference to Carmen’s birth, at which time her mother said, “This girl will make her own choices” (21). The expression of this feminist wish, unfortunately, has little to stand on, and the hopes her mother embedded in this prognostication are soon violently crushed. Rape is the most invasive and most violent experience Carmen encounters – and at such a young age – but it is only one example within Latino Canadian drama in which circumstances and situations negate free will and autonomy. Carmen claims on page 27 that she was “raised to be a revolutionary” and instead is forced into a situation that physically makes her a victim. No matter the degree of one’s individual strength, shame and blame aid and abet the ascendancy of victimhood.

In The Trigger, Carmen wonders: “Maybe if I hadn’t shaved my legs, I wouldn’t have gotten raped. I mean, maybe trying to be sexy draws rape to you” (37). Carmen carries the stigma further, by comparing herself to others when she says “their daughters are not dirty. Like me” (51). Although she is talking about the rape, the words can just as easily be applied to immigrants who are wont to compare themselves with others, and who conclude or are told that they are ‘dirty,’ like the Mexican migrants in Coyote.

The assault – too embarrassingly unseemly to contemplate – is never discussed. As stated in an edict from Carmen’s father: “We will never talk about this. And you will not mention it to anybody. If you tell people, they will point. They will shame you. They’ll say terrible things about you, daughter” (9). Carmen echoes her father’s position, and at the same time indicates the degree to which propaganda about the Latin American cause has permeated her outlook, to such an extent that she buries the rape, and folds it into the context of Latino politics…. all at the tender age of thirteen:

“We will never talk about this. Which is good. It’s good because now I don’t have to tell my mother, who is living in Bolivia, where she hides Chilean revolutionaries in her house. This [the rape] is nothing. Hiding revolutionaries in your house, that’s something. This is nothing” (40).

Shame is but a short step away from self-pity, a trait loathed among her cultural peers: “The day of the rape is over and it is never spoken of again. Because speaking of it would mean you feel sorry for yourself, and in a Chilean family living in exile, that is strictly forbidden. One feels sorry for the executed. For the tortured. For the disappeared. One gives one’s life for the cause. But one never gives one’s life for oneself. That would be considered bourgeois” (45-46). Instead of becoming steeped in self-pity, the teenaged girl forces herself to focus on her future. She continues with her studies, steers clear of the usual teenaged temptations and applies to both medical school and law school.

Carmen is not the only female character to endure physical suffering, only to triumph over it and emerge as a stronger, more determined and resilient woman. In Refugee, Flaca survives cruel torture. A political agitator and Marxist university professor, Flaca was a threat to the Chilean power structures, who eventually put her in jail. During the many months of her imprisonment, she was interrogated, assaulted, and eventually had her nipples cut off by her captors.

Nonetheless, like Carmen in The Trigger, Flaca does not give up or give in, nor does she allow violence to define who she is. Flaca stayed committed to the revolution and never succumbed to the interrogation, unlike her husband Fat Jorge, who told all when he was questioned by the authorities. Furthermore, Flaca slowly and eventually rebuilds her life and eventually becomes a university professor in Vancouver. Fat Jorge, on the other hand, eventually drinks himself to death.

Whether as a subtle leitmotif or a dominant theme, Latino Canadian drama encompasses or comments on the many socio-economic-political hurdles that Latino immigrants must overcome in real life. Additionally, in an examination of plays by Carmen Aguirre, Marilo Nunez, Emma Ari Beltran and Catherine Hernandez, and Amaranta Leyva, one begins to see not only the emerging prevalence of themes such as sexism and gender roles, but in these works, one has an opportunity to examine them in bas-relief and alto-relief against all the issues attendant to migration, cultural identity, racism and displacement. In these plays, one can witness the introduction of strong, vibrant Latina women and strong Latino voices on Canadian stages. Verisimilitude has a starring role in Latino Canadian drama, a branch of theatre which may comfortably be described as the margins taking centre stage.


Works Cited

Aguirre, Carmen. “¿Qué pasa with La Raza, eh?” Along Human Lines. Winnipeg: Blizzard Publishing, 2000.
—-. The Refugee Hotel, 7th draft, (2007). Personal copy, emailed to me by the author. Published by Talonbooks, 2010
—-. The Trigger. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2008.
Beltran, Emma Ari and Hernandez, Catherine. Coyote (2009). Personal copy, emailed to me by the authors.
Etcheverry, Jorge. “Chilean Poetry in Canada: Avant-garde, Nostalgia and Commitment.” Literatures of Lesser Diffusion. Ed. Joseph Pivato, et al. Edmonton, AB: The Research Institute for Comparative Literature, 1990. 299-311.
Gilbert, Helen and Tompkins, Joanne. Post-colonial Drama. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Ginieniewicz, Jorge. “Citizenship learning and political participation: the case of Latin American- Canadians.” London Review of Education 6.1 (March 2008): 71-85.
Kulyk Keefer, Janice. “The Sacredness of Bridges.” Literary Pluralities. Ed. Cristl Verduyn. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1998. 97-110.
Leyva, Amaranta. The Intruder. Personal copy, emailed to me by the author.
Nothof, Anne. “The Construction and Deconstruction of Border Zones in Fronteras Americanas by Guillermo Verdecchia and Amigo’s Blue Guitar by Joan Macleod.” Theatre Research in Canada 1999: 20.1. University of New Brunswick Library. October 17, 2009 http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/TRIC/vol20_1/Nothof.htm
Nunez, Marilo. Three Fingered Jack & The Legend of Joaquin Murieta (2006). Personal copy, emailed to me by the author.
Palmer-Seiler, Tamara. “Multi-Vocality and National Literature.” Literary Pluralities. Ed. Cristl Verduyn. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1998. 47-63.
Posner, Michael. “What it’s like to arrive at a place called exile.” From The Globe and Mail September 17, 2009. Langfield Entertainment News http://www.langfieldentertainment.com/17-09-09- REFUGEE.htm
Van Herk, Aritha. “The Ethnic Gasp/The Disenchanted Eye Unstoried.” Literary Pluralities. Ed. Cristl Verduyn. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1998.75-80.
Veronis, Luisa. “Strategic spatial essentialism: Latin Americans’ real and imagines geographies of belonging in Toronto.” Social & Cultural Geography 8.3 (June 2007): 455-473.