The Acto Latino Theater Group performs an original piece, along with a written play by Luis Valdez at the Santos Manuel Student Union (SMSU) theater.
The group wrote the play about a year and a half ago and has been working on its organization since then. The original piece is based on different experiences of people crossing the border, which were interviewed by the group. It’s a mixture of stories from Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We interviewed parents and family members, eventually combining the stories into three scenes from our collaborative effort,” Salazar said. “We created the original piece called, ‘El Cruce de los Sueños’.
Edgar Astorga, Director of the Latino Association Fundraising and CSUSB alumni, expresses the importance of keeping the culture alive.
“They talk about immigration and how people cross the border to seek a better life, yet they still remember their humble beginnings,” Astorga said.
Every character in the play is about a real person and their experiences crossing the border. Such as, Salazar’s character, Amparo, which tells the story of a classmates mother’s life crossing the border.
“In the first scene, we tell the story of a Jamaican mother who traveled from Jamaica to Jordan, then California,” Salazar said.
The stories can be very difficult because crossing the border isn’t easy. For many, it is days of starvation, tiredness, sexual abuse and thousands of dollars paid to the coyote smugglers.
“A lot of scenes show the dark side of immigration, people go days without eating, they risk getting caught, getting bit by something and many women get raped,” said Jose Velasco, actor in the play and CSUSB Alumni.
The second play, “Los Vendidos” by Luis Valdez, is based on various stereotypes of Mexicans, such as the gardener, nanny, etc.
“We play with these stereotypes and bring to life that we are more than these stereotypes,” Salazar said. “We all have a story to tell.”
The story gives criticism towards society reflecting Mexicans as someone people can buy and manipulate.
“A lot of people do not see that occurring unless you’re in the Hispanic community,” Velasco said. “People do not live it in their day to day life as we do.”
The theatrical play is a great platform to make ones voice heard, especially in issues like immigration.
“It is important to make people aware of the issues occurring in the country, such as immigration,” said Isela Iñiguez, member of El Acto Latino Theater Group. “More importantly, making people aware of the stereotypes Mexicans are labeled as.”
Aside from the issues, The Acto Latino Theater Group invites everyone to join and participate in the theatrical plays. It’s a place where many create lifelong friendships and get to travel to perform in other states.
“It’s not only about presenting, but also creating friendship and travel experiences,” Iñiguez said.
The main benefits of being in the theater are that it helps build confidence by performing in front of an audience.
“You gain more confidence while being able to talk in front of people and expressing your opinion of the certain issues,” Iñiguez said.
The group started in 2014 in need of a Spanish theater and it became community service for the students in the Spanish department. Valerie Salazar, President of the Acto Latino Theater Group, joined a year after the group initiated. She takes care of reservations, communicating with other clubs/organizations, upon other things.
“There is a need for a Spanish based theater, there aren’t very many plays in Spanish,” Salazar said. “And it is community service for students to get hours through the Spanish department.”