“Trump has been using the Latino community as a punching bag from the minute he opened his mouth,” says James E. Garcia, founder of New Carpa Theater in Phoenix.
Now the playwright is punching back – bigly – with his new satire, American Pastorela: The Trumpifornication Tour. We haven’t seen it yet, because it’s playing Oct. 27 through Nov. 6, but it’s tremendous and uses the best words.
Garcia has previously taken on SB 1070, Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio in his series of Pastorelas – traditional Mexican nativity plays that have often evolved into political commentary.
In American Pastorela, the Hernandez family from Altar, Sonora (all U.S. citizens thanks to Reagan’s amnesty) learn that Donald Trump “is running for president and groping people along the way.” So they walk to Phoenix to register to vote in time for the election. On the journey, they run into a cast of nasty women and bad hombres, including Melania Trump, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin and Jan Brewer.
“For me this play is a two-hour-long satirical opinion editorial piece,” says Garcia. “I want people to walk away with certain messages, like a commentary on the GOP and how they created Trump, or U.S. immigration policy today… and some insight into the hypocrisy of the policy.”
“But it’s gotta be funny,” he emphasizes. “I want people to laugh… and to walk away and to vote, to think about these things, and do it with a smile on their face.”
Garcia also wants to get more Latinos and people of color on the stage, and he’s succeeding with American Pastorela. “It’s a rare perspective here in Arizona, even though the population [of Latinos] is at least 30 percent, and we’ve been here since before it was a state and before this was America. So it’s necessary as a community, because otherwise we’re not getting a full representation of the culture and the intellectual perspective of this community.”
As a journalist, Garcia knows what it’s like to be a rare Latino voice on the media “stage.” He was founding editor of Latino Perspectives magazine; the first Latino Affairs correspondent for KJZZ, the Valley’s NPR affiliate; and is currently one of the few commentators of color on KTAR, Phoenix’s talk radio station.
Garcia launched Latino-focused New Carpa Theatre in 2002 “to bring more color and more diversity to the stage here in Phoenix.” Named after the carpa (“tent”) theaters that traveled along the U.S.-Mexico border around the turn of the 20th century, the company produces around four plays a year, mostly Garcia’s original works.
Though Garcia has written some 30 plays, American Pastorela is presenting him with a unique challenge: “There’s just too much stuff to make fun of,” he says. “I can’t keep up with [Trump’s] madness.”
Fortunately, he’s come up with an innovative way to add fresh Trumpisms to the performances as they make the news. We look forward to the punchlines.
American Pastorela: The Trumpifornication Tour
When: Oct. 27 to Nov. 6, Thursday through Sunday each week
Where: Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center, 1333 E. Washington St., Phoenix
Details: Tickets are $20 general admission and $15 for students and groups of 10 or more. General admission tickets are available at newcarpa.org. To reserve discounted tickets, call 623-252-2772, or buy them at the door. Groups of at-risk youth or adults are invited to attend the show for free, while tickets last, but seats must be reserved in advance.