Teatro Espejo, Sacramento’s longest-running Latino theater company, will perform “La Victima” at the Three Penny Theater. A bilingual play chronicles the life of a Mexican woman who immigrates to the United States with her parents as a child and is ultimately deported by her long-lost son. “La Victima” was written by Teatro de la Esperanza in 1976 and will be directed by Teatro Espejo’s Antonio Juarez.
Retired Sacramento State professor Manuel Pickett is the artistic director of Teatro Espejo. Starting as a musician in Cesar Chavez’s farmworker movement and eventually becoming a musical director and actor for Teatro del Campesino, Pickett became a professor at CSUS and founded Teatro Espejo. He retired from the university in 2012.
The Bee spoke to Pickett about “La Victima” and the role of Chicano theater in California.
Q. Can you tell me a bit about “La Victima”?
A: It basically chronicles the history of immigration from Mexico to the United States and it goes through ... five generations of the same family. The family serves as a microcosm of a lot of immigrants that are here in the United States from Mexico. It talks a lot about the abuse they went through, the discrimination, a lot of misunderstandings of what their purpose was for being there, and their contributions.
Q. Why was “La Victima” chosen?
A: We do issues not only in terms of our culture, but issues that affect the community as a whole. We chose this particular play because it talks about the benefits of having immigrants here in the United States.
Q. How did you get involved with Chicano theater?
A: Back in 1968, I became a member of Teatro Campesino. It’s a pretty famous group that was started back in 1965 by the farmworkers union [United Farm Workers] and then I became a musician, then an actor, and I stayed with it for five years and learned this particular style. I ended up here in Sacramento and started the group way back in 1978.
Q. What is unique about“La Víctima,” performances?
A: Everyone stays onstage, there’s very little scenery, very few props. That’s so you can tour your works and be able to take the play out to the community ... sometimes we do improv theater, and five- to 10-minute skits whenever needed. We usually perform at California Stage Theatre – we’re provided a home there. And we utilize all three theaters: Three Penny; California Stage; and the Wilkerson – that’s our home-base. We have traveled to different parts of the country, Mexico and other places throughout our history.
“La Victima: a bilingual play”
When: August 4-6, Aug 11-13
Where: Three Penny Theatre, 1721 25th Street, Sacramento
Tickets: $10, brownpapertickets.com