In the late ‘60s, Mexican theatre artist and activist Luis Valdez—considered the father of Chicano theatre in the United States—toured his Teatro Campesino across Calfornia, performing short plays about immigrant farm workers’ stories on the back of a flatbed truck. Today, award-winning solo performer José Torres-Tama has created the “ALIENS Taco Truck Theatre Project.” Inspired by Valdez, Torres-Tama is transforming a truck into a “theatre on wheels,” bringing immigrant stories to high schools, churches, schools and even Lowe’s and Home Depot lots.
The show, Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers, cultivates a “sci-fi Latino noir genre-bending aesthetic that satirizes the governmental status of the immigrant/foreigner as an ‘alien,’” Torres-Tama says. An Ecuadorian immigrant himself, Torres-Tama arrived in the U.S. at age seven. “I look to tell people’s stories,” he adds. “In the Latin-American tradition, I believe the poet, writer, and artist has a social responsibility, a mythic duty, to document and articulate people’s struggle.”
Aided by a National Performance Network Creation Fund grant, Torres-Tama traveled to Houston and Washington, D.C., to interview immigrant youth activists, policy makers and lawyers for the show. He also spoke to immigrant day laborers in his hometown of New Orleans.
“Immigrant workers need to hear that their labors are heroic, as they endure the hateful rhetoric that brands them as ‘illegal’ and dehumanizes them,” he says. Torres-Tama’s roaming taco truck will combat this “fear and hate,” he says—all the while offering vegetarian microwaveable tacos.
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