Hispanic troupe gives audience rare treat

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—In a rare Western Slope performance by the company, Su Teatro of Denver presents “La Carpa de los Rasquachis,” a play about an immigrant farm worker’s life in America by leading Chicano playwright Luis Valdez, at Mesa State College on Sunday. Su Teatro will perform a play about farm workers’ labor leader Cesar Chavez today at Central High School.

Carolina Rodriguez remembers her first experience with Denver-based acting troupe Su Teatro.

“It was awesome. You can go from laughing to crying in one show,” she said.

Rodriguez, a member of the Mesa State College chapter of La Raza, was back for more Sunday as Su Teatro performed for an audience of more than 250 in the ballroom at Mesa State’s College Center. La Raza and another campus club, Pura Vida, combined budgets to bring the acting company to Mesa State for $3,000.

Su Teatro is one of the few Hispanic acting companies in the state and rarely performs on the Western Slope. Its actors and musicians present original and classic plays detailing the history and experiences of the Chicano and Latino communities.

The bilingual actors in the Sunday production of “La Carpa de los Rasquachis,” by famed Chicano playwright Luis Valdez, ranged from 16-year-old students to stage veterans who have been with the company for more than 35 years. The story details an immigrant’s life as a farm worker.

Every actor has personal reasons for joining the group, Su Teatro tour manager Mica Garcia De Benavidez said. But for many actors, Garcia De Benavidez said getting to pass on culture and history is a major draw to the company.

The performances are important for both people trying to learn their own heritage and those exploring the heritage of others, according to Mayela Vallejos Ramirez, an associate professor of Spanish at Mesa State and adviser to La Raza and Pura Vida. She has taken several groups of students to Denver to see Su Teatro’s plays and was glad to give locals the chance to see a production in town.

“I just fell in love with them,” Ramirez said, recalling her first experience seeing Su Teatro perform. “It’s an amazing thing what they do for the Hispanic community and the Anglo community.”

Su Teatro will perform “Papi, me and Cesar Chavez,” a play about labor rights activist Cesar Chavez, today for Central High School students before leaving Grand Junction.


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