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AMERICAN SUEÑO
A Teatro Milagro original bilingual production
Created by Dañel Malán and Rebecca Martínez
Directed by Rebecca Martínez
January 15-23, 2010

You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride.  You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.  Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.   – César Chávez

The "American dream” is everybody’s hope for a better job, a better life, a better tomorrow, but for some of us, a dream is all it will ever be.  The dream is just out of our grasp, for we are “the other”, the homeless, the weirdo, the freak, the gay, the immigrant and the outcast.  Despite these odds, American Sueño is a hopeful journey in search of a new era of acceptance.

American Sueño tells the stories of four marginalized individuals in pursuit of their version of the American Dream.  Agustín Obrero de la Torre, a musician, is just getting by when disaster strikes his family.  He is forced to take on his parents' financial responsibilities as his sister, Monica, struggles between living with the traditional values of her family and searching out a new life of her own.  Hampered by his own illegal status, Agustín turns to Mimi, a lovelorn drag performer, who eagerly helps him wade through the tangles of American bureaucracy.  Cruz, a shadow living on the streets, collides with Agustín, compelling him to decide, “what am I willing to sacrifice to make my American Dream a reality?”

A smart, bilingual discussion starter for high school and college multicultural student organizations, gay-straight alliances and others who wish to address diversity, as well as students of Spanish, English as a second language, social studies and theatre arts.


Debra Polanco

I recently saw American Sueño in Seattle at the Ethnic Cultural Center. What an amazing production!

I found myself talking the next week to others at the community college where I teach sociology, about the show and how many relevant themes were explored.

Great entertainment and thought provoking, as I teach Race and Ethnic Group Relations as well as Sociology of Family and Intro Courses, the performance spoke to each class.  I wish I could have brought all my students with me...the humanity and complex relationships would have given them plenty to think about! (I know I am still thinking about it myself.)

The cast was amazing. And when I say "I laughed, I cried," I mean it!   Thank You


Sandy Neal

I was at the performance Thursday, March 4, at Centralia College.  It was a phenomenally moving experience.  I just had to tell you all THANK YOU!  I hope you will return in the future.



Fertile Ground 2010: American Sueno
Rebecca Frost Mayer
January 22, 2010

Last night I began my Fertile Ground viewing experience at Miracle Theatre, where American Sueno opened last week and continues through Saturday before beginning a regional tour.  The production is good, the performances great, and the script and music are absolutely outstanding.

Martinez has accomplished the challenging feat of addressing themes including immigration, healthcare, homosexuality, bisexuality, homelessness, transgender, the death of a parent, and economic equality without once throwing anything in the audience’s face.  She completely sidesteps the obvious traps that these themes and issues could offer when creating art.  Last night I was crying, laughing, identifying with the characters, and was completely moved without feeling for a moment that I was watching a “statement piece” or being told how to feel about what I was witnessing.  It’s refreshing to see a piece of theatre that takes on important political and social issues without shocking the audience with foul language, nudity, drug use, or violence.  American Sueno will be compelling and effective educational theatre.

Rebecca Martinez’ directing and staging are very effective within this piece also.  Her background as a choreographer is evident in the way that she moves actors through the space and transitions them from scene to scene on a bare-bones stage with a few chairs minimal props.  A beautiful sequence in the second half of the play involving mail will hit home for anyone who has dealt with overwhelming bills (medical or otherwise).  And, where else can you get all this plus a drag queen with a ribbon stick?!


Review: 'American Sueno' has rough edges but a solid heart
By Richard Wattenberg, Special to The Oregonian
January 17, 2010, 1:57PM


Photo by Motoya Nakamura

What are the dreams that motivate the many immigrants both legal and illegal, who have come to and live in the United States? Do these “huddled masses” merely yearn for job opportunities? Are they lured by the possibility of making more money here than elsewhere?  Or is the American dream something other than financial success?

Teatro Milagro’s new bilingual play, “American Sueño,” created by Rebecca Martínez and Dañel Malán and written and directed by Martínez, suggests it’s not just money that drives immigrants, especially the immigrant children who grow up in the States. Financial security is
hard enough to achieve, but the characters of this play long to satisfy complex and often contradictory desires.   What are the dreams that motivate the many immigrants both legal and illegal, who have come to and live in the United States? Do these “huddled masses” merely yearn for job opportunities? Are they lured by the possibility of making more money here than elsewhere?  Or is the American dream something other than financial success?

This earnest, well-intentioned drama, with moving music by Joaquín López, may have some rough edges, but it thoughtfully explores the problematic pursuit of cultural as well as sexual identity.

The play focuses on Augustín Obrero de la Torre (sensitively portrayed by Joaquín López). Augustín is dedicated to his music and doesn’t worry about making money until his father is seriously injured in an automobile accident. Both are in the States illegally and so without health insurance, but Augustín takes it upon himself to find a way to pay his father’s medical bills.

Augustín’s sister, Monica (played with emotional intensity by Sylvia Malán), was born in the U.S. and is thus a citizen but is both unable and unwilling to help. She is alienated from her father, who threw her out of his house after she confessed to him that she was bisexual.  

What makes Augustín’s relationship to his father more complicated is that he, too, is gay, but because of what may be misplaced family loyalty, he has been unable to admit this to his conservative dad.

Augustín and Monica are caught between old narrow ideas and traditions on the one hand and the need and desire to freely express who they are on the other. This quandary is epitomized by the fact that Augustín, who came to the U.S. when he was 2, has no memory of or connection to Mexico; he belongs neither here nor there. He inhabits a strange liminal zone, as does his sister with her ambivalent sexuality and the play’s other two characters:  Augustín’s friend Mimi (Daniel Moreno), a gay female impersonator, who may be a man but feels more comfortable as a woman, and a homeless street person, Cruz (Dañel Malán), who lives a reality where past loss and present woe seem to blend eerily.

Mimi, whom Moreno plays with a likable but restrained flamboyance, and Cruz, whom Malán plays with an intriguing delicacy, are charming characters about whom it would be interesting to know more. This is especially true of Cruz, who mysteriously wanders in and out of the play from the start but is never as well integrated into the action as she could be.

What finally seems to tie Mimi and Cruz together and to Augustín is a love of music, and it is music that provides them all comfort. While the contradictions marking each of the four characters’ lives are not ultimately harmonized, the play still ends on a hopeful note.

Scenic support for this touring show is limited to Sophya Vidal’s mural-like backdrop seemingly depicting a deserted street in the warehouse district of Portland’s near east side at sunset, a wooden box that can serve as a small table, and two folding chairs, but the actors generally handle the sparseness of scenery well.  Entrances and exits are occasionally awkward, and the sense of place is not always entirely clear — at least for this non-Spanish speaking audience member — but the production is consistently well paced and its thematic concerns clearly established.

Reaching for the American Dream from society’s margins
Julie Cortez
El Hispanic News January14, 2010

Portland, OR — Whether due to immigration status, sexual orientation, or homelessness, the characters in Miracle Theater’s new play, “American Sueño,” face challenges both unique and universal as they strive toward their interpretations of the American Dream.

“American Sueño,” which runs Jan. 15 through Jan. 23, is the story of siblings Agustín and Mónica, drag performer Mimi, and homeless Cruz. Agustín and Mónica, both undocumented, struggle with their family-oriented Mexican origins and their growing sense of American individualism after an accident leaves their father dependent upon them. Mimi searches for true love and a way to help Agustín; Cruz seeks a way off the streets and a path back to her true and full self.

“American Sueño” is based on interviews with real people, including Joaquín López, who portrays Agustín and provided original music for the show. Director Rebecca Martínez created a script out of those real-life stories as well as interviews with the actors in character.

López’s life even influenced the language of “American Sueño.” The play is primarily in English with some Spanish and Spanglish dialogue — as well as songs and poetic scene introductions in Spanish that help fl esh out the themes for non-English-speaking audience members. This approach, according to Martínez, is largely based on López’s interactions with his family; he predominately speaks Spanish with his parents and English with his siblings. He also sings in both languages.

Teatro Milagro Artistic Director Dañel Malán, who plays the part of Cruz and serves as the play’s props master, said the desire to explore sexual orientation in this work stemmed from research that revealed the extreme marginalization of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning) community, as well as Malán’s observation that plays about LGBTQ issues often focus more on sex than on human beings.

“For me, it was really about the characters fi nding themselves … regardless of sexuality,” Malán says. “These people are real people, too. They’re not a statistic.”

Martínez shares Malán’s vision. “To me it’s not a Latino play, or an immigrant play, or an LGBTQ issue play,” she says. “It’s fi rst and foremost about these people.”

To drive home that focus on humanity even more, the fi nal 2 p.m. matinee of “American Sueño” on Jan. 23 will be followed by a bilingual health fair in the Milagro Theatre building. Presented by the Latino Sexual Health Coalition (Teatro Milagro; Multnomah County STD, HIV, Hepatitis C Program; and Cascade AIDS Project), the fair will feature Spanish-language health resources, free blood pressure checks, referrals, HIV tests, bilingual health screenings, free bone marrow donor registration, and other wellness activities and health-related gifts.


Teatro Milagro is the international touring theatre company of the Miracle Theatre Group. Current global issues are crafted into cutting edge dramatic plays infused with Latino culture, Spanish language and original music.

Teatro Milagro's mission is to share the diversity of Latin America and advocate for global unity through theatre.

Dañel Malán, Teatro Milagro Artistic Director
Ms. Malán co-founded the Miracle Theatre Group with her husband, José Eduardo González, and in 1989 she created the bilingual touring program, Teatro Milagro. Under her artistic direction, Ms. Malán has created and produced many original bilingual plays, a bilingual residency program Puentes(Bridges) and the BEAT (Bilingual Educator Arts Training) conducted in collaboration with arts groups and school districts throughout Oregon.  Additionally, Ms. Malán has designed and edited an annual bilingual workbook for teachers that follows the thematic units of the Puentes residency program, which includes environmental education, anti-bullying curriculum, social justice theatre and countless writing, visual arts and crafts projects.  For over 20 years, Teatro Milagro has provided opportunities for ethnic artists whose voices might not otherwise be heard. The playwrights, directors and actors involved have included artists from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Ecuador, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. In addition to producing plays and educational residencies, Ms. Malán also manages the tour that has traveled not only throughout Oregon, but also to Washington, California, Idaho, Montana, Illinois, Missouri, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, New York, Mexico and Canada.

See video clips from rehearsal on Youtube

Listen to an interview from KBOO radio’s
Stage and Studio

Read about the show in Friday’s issue of
Just Out

Read the story "Often shunned by family, Oregon's gay Latinos fight for respect" in the Oregonian

See production photos on Flickr


PRODUCTION SPONSOR

The 2010 tour of American Sueño and its accompanying “Journeys” activities is made possible in part by support from the
Oregon Arts Commission
Juan Young Trust
Ventura Group, Inc.
Autzen Foundation
Target
Carpenter Foundation
Pride Foundation



This project is a proud participant in Fertile Ground, Portland’s citywide festival of new work taking place January 22 to February 1, 2010.

Festival passes are available for $100 from Miracle Theatre or through the Fertile Ground Web site.


Photo by Kenneth Aaron

CAST 
Joaquín LópezAugustín
Sylvia Malán-GonzálezMonica
Daniel MorenoMimi
Dañel Malán Cruz

PRODUCTION TEAM
Rebecca Martínez … Director
Joaquín López … Composer
Rhiannon Rodríguez … Lighting Designer
Tomás Rivero … Mural Artist
Melissa Weckhorst … Costume Designer
Dañel Malán … Prop Master
Melissa Weckhorst … Stage Manager
Sarah Hinds … House Manager


 PUENTES
American Sueño
is accompanied by a “Journeys” Puentes (Bridges) residency that celebrates individuality and introduces new bilingual anti-bullying curriculum and workshops for schools and community groups. The American Sueño characters all evolved from interviews of real-life marginalized individuals who have shared their stories in hopes that the play and its accompanying “Journeys” Puentes residency program can help shed some light for the general public about their struggles, hopes and dreams. 


HEALTH FAIR
Jan 23 at 2pm

A free, bilingual health fair, sponsored in part by Kaiser Permanente and presented by the Latino Sexual Health Coalition composed of Teatro Milagro, Multnomah County STD, HIV, HepatitisC Program and Cascade AIDS Project, will provide visitors with Spanish-language health resources. The fair, which immediately follows the 2 p.m. matinee of American Sueño on Saturday, Jan. 23, will also feature free blood pressure checks, referrals, HIV tests, bilingual health screenings and other wellness activities and health-related gifts from representatives of the Latino Sexual Health Coalition, An Sen Clinic, OHSU Latino Medical Student Association and others.


ABOUT KAISER PERMANENTE
Kaiser Permanente is America’s leading integrated health care organization. Founded in 1945, the organization serves the health needs of more than 8.6 million people nationwide. More than 470,000 people in Oregon and Southwest Washington receive their health care from Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to provide quality care for its members and their families, and to contribute to the well-being of our communities.

MULTNOMAH COUNTY STD, HIV, HEPATITIS C PROGRAM
The mission of the Multnomah County STD, HIV, Hepatitis C Program is to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV, and hepatitis C and reduce the impact of disease acquisition and drug-related harm on individuals and communities. The program promotes policies that positively impact physical and sexual health. It implements effective, population-based public health interventions. The program prioritizes populations that experience the greatest disparities, and it engages in collaborative community partnerships and planning.

CASCADE AIDS PROJECT (CAP)
Cascade AIDS Project is the oldest and largest community-based provider of HIV services, including housing, education and advocacy in Oregon and Southwest Washington. CAP’s mission is to lead efforts to prevent new HIV infections, care for people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, educate communities to eliminate stigma and shame, and advocate for immediate action in combating the pandemic. Overall, last year CAP provided HIV/AIDS education and prevention services to 16,040 people and coordinated wrap-around support services for 2,502 men, women and children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS. In addition, 735 people contributed 19,960 hours of their time to help CAP achieve its mission. For more information about Cascade AIDS Project go to: www.cascadeaids.org.

AN SEN CLINIC offers a uniquely different experience. Whether individuals are seeking care for a chronic or acute medical condition, or innately searching for a little rest and relaxation, An Sen’s spirited staff & blended therapies can help them get there. An Sen offers traditional and classical Chinese medicine, and therapeutic Asian inspired spa treatments. Its services include: acupuncture, massage, reflexology, herbal medicine, diet and nutrition, pediatric and family care and anti-aging therapies such as cosmetic acupuncture & facial rejuvenation. An Sen Clinic is an approved Kaiser Permanente alternative care provider. For more information visit http://www.portlandacupuncture.net/.

ABOUT OHSU LATINO MEDICAL STUDENT ASSOCIATION (LMSA) is a network of students, alumni and health professionals whose mission is to promote the development of Latino students through educational, volunteer, professional and networking opportunities to foster diversity, higher education and the improvement of the Latino community. Contact the local chapter of LMSA at SNMALMSA@ohsu.edu.


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Miracle Theatre Group