Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Yo Soy Joaquín
The Chicano Movement Explodes Onstage
Siembra Latino Theatre Festival
Review by Rob Spiegel


Patricio Tlacaelel Trujillo y Fuentes
Photo Courtesy National Hispanic Cultural Center
Yo Soy Joaquín (or "I am Joaquín") is an epic poem by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, a well-known work associated with the Chicano movement of the 1960s. Joaquín is the narrative voice of the poem, voicing the struggles to achieve economic justice and equal rights. The poem outlines 2000 years of Mexican and Mexican-American history, highlighting the different and often opposing strains that make up Hispanic heritage.

Patricio Tlacaelel Trujillo y Fuentes has brought the poem alive as part of the Siembra Latino Theatre Festival at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC). Trujillo y Fuentes makes quite a spectacle of the performance, exploding onto the stage amid fog in native Yucatan costume.

He then uses costume changes and a video screen to depict the various stages of Chicano struggles in the Americas, particularly in the United States. Trujillo y Fuentes grew up in Pueblo, Colorado, in the 1960s, where he first learned the poem when he was nine. He notes that Yo Soy Joaquín is "his blood, his heartbeat, his way of life." He remembers the Brown Berets marching in parades and the dismissal from school on September 16th so students could participate in the public festivities celebrating Mexican independence.

The joy Trujillo y Fuentes takes in the poem is clear and contagious. This 45-minute one-act one-man-show rushes by in a blink. Trujillo y Fuentes keeps the energy high throughout. Also, hats off to guitarist Andres Valdez, Sr., who appears briefly toward the end of the show. The production crew of J. Santiago Candelaria as production manager and Carol Power as stage manager have helped to put together just the right set to support Trujillo y Fuentes' energetic performance.

The Siembra Festival, which is finishing up its second years at the NHCC, continues to present nine to ten plays each year. Let's hope it continues. I've been impressed by the rich selection of plays, many of which might not find a venue in Albuquerque were it not for this program. Kudos to the NHCC for supporting the festival.

The audiences have sometimes been thin for these mostly excellent productions. This might be helped by greater promotion through subscription sales. There's certainly an argument to be made for the value of an audience commitment to viewing multiple productions. They build favorably on each other.

Yo Soy Joaquín, written by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales and performed by Patricio Tlacaelel Trujillo y Fuentes, through April 10, 2016, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Performances are at 7:30 Thursday through Saturday, and at 2:00 on Sunday. Tickets are $18, with a $3 discount for seniors and students. $10 for Thursday performances. For more information or to reserve tickets, call the NHCC at 724-4771, or go to nhccnm.org/events


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