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After a decade of dedication and perseverance Teatro Visión has the privilege of presenting the world premier of “Macario,” a bilingual theatrical adaptation of the B. Traven novel. The original play, directed by Elisa Alvarado opened October 10 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza Theater at the School of Arts and Culture.
“Macario” is originally a novel written in the 1940’s by German author Traven, who made his way to Mexico in the 1920’s. He left Germany because he was being persecuted for political activism.
“It’s a story set in pre-independence Mexico and at the time there was a very rigid cast system, where indigenous people were treated very badly. The inquisition was in full force,” said director Alvarado of Teatro Visión. “There were racial categories and different laws for those groups, a lot of racism in our community.”
The foreign writer was very impressed and enthusiastic about the changes he was witnessing in Mexico. Traven took it upon himself to do research and began to write stories about the conditions of the indigenous people. “Macario” is one of those stories, where three spirits approach the workingman when faced with the chance to having an entire turkey to eat.
“It was a very exciting time. The Mexican revolution ended and all kinds of reform were being instituted, like the public education system,” said Alvarado. ”Even though there were very positive reforms being implemented, the plight of indigenous people was not changing.”
The Chicano theater company’s version of “Macario” has been adapted from the novel and the film. A film was released in 1960 with the help of Emilio Carballido, one of Mexico’s leading playwrights. It was nominated for an Oscar, Mexico’s first time being nominated for best foreign film.
Still, when Alvarado and co-director Rodrigo Garcia conceived the idea of a play, it wasn’t simply out of a desire for originality. They consider “Macario” very much part of the literary and cultural legacy in Mexico.
To get the rights, there were countless trips south of the border, research, and conversations to be had. Alvarado was uncertain with whom to speak, but eventually got permission from the author’s descendant.
After getting the request from the family to work closely to the novel, Teatro Visión collaborated with playwright Evelina Fernández, composer Russell Rodríguez, and choreographer María De La Rosa. They developed an outline and concept. They explored it through improv and discussion.
”It’s definitely relevant to the existence of hunger in this valley, one of the wealthiest regions in the nation,” said Alvarado. “Yet there is much hunger in our community, particularly in immigrant communities.” In the summer of 2012, Alvarado suffered an aneurism. The project was postponed for a whole year. She stated she was fine and considered herself lucky.
In a way they had to start over in the production part. They had to recast. The current cast includes five children and community members. So the cast is a mixture of experienced actors and people that have taken their theater class. Rehearsals started August 5. The play has a lot of music and dance.
”It’s a not-to-be-missed production for the whole family, all ages,” said Alvarado.
“Macario” (now through October 20) Tickets are $7-40 and available online at: