Left to right: Elijah Rios, Maria Ibarra, Lisa Suarez, Nicolás Valdez appear in Pocho/a Courtesy photo
In the spirit of community teatro, madmedia stages its fourth edition of 'Pocho/a' at the Guadalupe

On both sides of the border we are children of crises and orphans of two dysfunctional nation-states. — Guillermo Gómez-Peña

When Nuestra Señora de Los Libros appears to Johnny D, a modern-day Juan Diego-like immigrant, she asks that he go to the Mayor with one wish: "Build me a bookstore on the South Side of San Antonio," she says in her best Sandra Cisneros voice. So begins the centerpiece act in the fourth edition of Pocho/a, a multimedia theatrical show opening Friday, August 22, and is produced by the local actor's group madmedia, which works "to foster the experimentation of multimedia production and to encourage collaboration between artists with a focus of ignored social issues."

8pm Friday-Saturday
5pm Sunday
Opens Friday, August 22
Through Sunday, August 31
$10 adults, $8 students
Guadalupe Theater
1300 Guadalupe
533-8240 (madmedia)

5pm Saturday, August 30
The six-member troupe in search of wider audiences includes actors Lisa Suarez, María A. Ibarra, Nicolás R. Valdez, and Elijah Rios, video artist Haldun, and set designer Adriana M. Garcia. The homegrown performance company offers touches of Culture Clash vato coolness and Gomez-Peña's radical performance art. Veteranos might even detect influences of 1960s agitprop teatro that once flourished here. Yet, madmedia's irreverent, site-specific antics are original, witty, and inventive.

So where does the word "pocho or "pocha" - a derogatory term used by Mexican nationals to describe Mexican Americans born on this side of the border - fit into the mix?

"We use the term 'pocho' as a way to defuse the word and to empower ourselves in the process," one of the actors explains during a rehearsal break. The idea is brought home in a sketch where two Mexican Americans try to enter a Mexican disco/bar but are turned away for being "pochos" while the "fresas" (rich Mexican youths) and white Americans are given carte blanche in the club. The young pocho reflects on why his Latino brothers would treat him this way. Of course, the point is later made in a series of "factoids" that states pochos are rapidly outnumbering the name callers. "We want people to leave with a little bit more understanding about who we are and where we're going."

"We use the term 'pocho' as a way to defuse the word and to empower ourselves in the process."
Another acto, introduced by the Mexican song "Volver, Volver," tells the oft-repeated tale of a migrante everyman who makes one final trek across the border. And Mexican or not, you will probably want to join in on the song's chills-and-tears refrain.

The group hopes to take the show on the road to other Texas cities, and a presentation at the fabled Teatro Campesino in California may also be in the works. "Like Luis Valdez, all we need is a tent to draw a crowd of people," one actor says. The other members nod in unison. And while the show is geared to draw a younger audience, they express hopes for a multigenerational one.

Supporting live community teatro is one of the best ways to beat these dog days of August. A gala version of Pocho/a will be held on Saturday, August 30, with food, drink, music, and pachanga, and featuring the Austin-based Grupo Fantasma.

You might be asked to show your papers as you enter the theater and cross over into Los Pochos Unidos de Tejaztlán. No sweat. Casi todos somos pochos. Ajua!


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