By Ericka Ruiz |Staff Writer|
Laughter filled the room at the Pfau library Oct. 10 when students from CSUSB improvised a reading from a play written by playwright Carlos Morton.
With October being Hispanic Heritage Month, the Dean of the Library, Cesar Cabarello and staff had the honor to invite Morton to the library this past Thursday.
Morton, known for his Chicano playwright achievements, has a doctorate in Theater Arts and is a professor at UC Santa Barbara. He has had numerous amounts of successful theatrical productions that have gained popularity not only in the U.S. but abroad as well.
As he was welcomed by the CSUSB staff and students he began his presentation speaking about the play that he will be doing readings on “The Golden One.” The idea of the play came about when Morton was in grad school and his professor told his students to write a play on the history of California.
“I have always been fascinated by place names,” said Morton.
He was so fascinated that he came about writing a play about the many eclectic Southern California city names.
Dr. Kathryn Ervin, chair of the Theatre Arts Department, gathered a group of seven students from Theatre Arts classes to help illustrate portions of the readings from the play. These students were given a script to read in front of the audience and not having them memorized was a true challenge.
“The Golden One” is set in Riverside County and begins with three conquistadores that discover a promising land; a land that has already been named Jurupa Valley by the indigenous people. During the readings you hear familiar names like Cucamonga, Loma Linda, San Bernandino, Mira Loma, Moreno Valley and other local city names in battles between the conquistadores and the indigenous people.
The play is educational and is very comical. It takes place in the 1700s but features objects like a credit card, Mickey Mouse action figure and a Coke bottle. The objects presented in the play gave it a humorous, yet culturally relevant touch.
Morton uses Commedia dell’arte, which employs the use of improvisation and props, as a form of artistic expression. When asked why he uses this style, he simply answered, “Because serious subjects told by humor sticks to people.”
Morton stressed that teaching and entertaining with humor is a great way to connect to different cultures. He learned that concept by working with the Tierra Campesino Theatre.
As Morton concluded his speech, he layed across the counter three of his books that he had for sale, which included The Many Deaths of Danny Rosales, Rancho Hollywood, and Dreaming On a Sunday In the Alameda.
He gave the audience an opportunity to buy the book directly and autographed each purchase.