Mexican-American community

Since much of what is the western United States was acquired from Mexico by force, political themes that deal with such a history will find their way both overtly and allegorically in the work of Mexican playwrights. In other Latin and South American theatrical styles, such specific themes will not be present as the relationship between those countries and the United States have been significantly different.

For example, the United States relationship in Nicaragua has been equally tumultuous as it was the United States that backed the overthrow of the Marxist regimes in that country during the 1980’s. This is a completely different dynamic that what exists in the history between the United States and Mexico. As such, the political themes found in Nicaraguan plays will have a different take than what will be found in Mexican theater, as many Mexican plays will view the USA as an imperialist power while many plays that originate from Nicaragua will present the USA as a liberator.

(The obvious exception would be, of course, plays written by pro-Marxist Nicaraguans) These concepts can be further compounded by the fact that there is far more Mexican immigrants in the United States than there are Nicaraguan immigrants. Because of this, there will be more familiarity of what life is in the United States from the Mexican perspective and presentation of themes, as opposed to the more removed Nicaraguan perspective which may be either too idealized or even depressed due to a more limited familiarity.

Furthermore, the political themes that were/are present in Mexican plays were not entirely directed at the United States. Often, the political themes of the plays in Mexican theater would be directed at the domestic policies of Mexico itself. In many instances, the political commentary of these plays would be increasingly harsh. The Politics and Histories of Mexican and South American Theater Pg 4 melodramas dominated the stage until the 1920s, but theater was also used for political ends.

One of the most important companies based in San Francisco, La Familia Estrella, held frequent performances to raise money for the Republican cause in Mexico during the French intervention there (1862-1867). More often, plays were written to raise funds for people who, from the perspective of the community, were wrongly accused of crimes. For example, Gregorio Cortez, a young Mexican imprisoned unjustly for killing a sheriff who had trespassed on his land, was memorialized first in a corrido (ballad) at the turn of the century and recently in a film entitled The Corrido of Gregorio Cortez, starring James Edward Olmos.

So, from this it can be viewed that Mexican theater can exist across the border within the Mexican American community while still maintaining a certain specific cultural tie that binds with the motherland in a way that other South American countries can not duplicate to the same degree. Again, this is not to say the no South American culture can provide domestic criticism by the proxy of location in America, but merely that such proxy criticism via United States theatrical troupes will be more voluminous from the United States, as it will be proportionate with the significant Mexican-American community that exists in North America.

If there were to be a case for dominant similarities between the theatrical movements of Mexico and the theatrical movements of the other South American dramatic institutions it would be that there has always been an emphasis on elevating the life of indigenous peoples and spreading a message of liberty and self determination.

While some theatrical movements were pro-democracy and other theatrical movements may have been pro- Marxist, there was always a clear and dominant theme present of the indigenous people longing for the ability to create a life for themselves free of foreign rule and imperialism. If there were a difference that existed in relation to this concept of The Politics and Histories of Mexican and South American Theater Pg 5 responsive action to imperialist aggression, it would be found within the framework of the governmental institutions of the particular nations.