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Theater Essay, Research Paper

Villa, Vendidos, y Vatos

Actos are reflections of a Chican@ s experience. Just like most Chican@s are different from each other, but at the core share the same value system, so it is with actos. Huerta uncovers the meaning of three actos, The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, Los vendidos, La victima, that share the theme of Chican@ identity in the late twentieth century. More importantly each play tries to demonstrate what a Chican@ should not be and provides alternatives that are positive. The acto that is most explicit with the Chican@ identity is The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa.

The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa like other actos by Luis Valdez are political and deal with survival in El Notre. Unlike the television show, Survivor, Valdez s characters are struggling for cultural survival while progressing economically. The play is of Mexican parents trying to keep their family together. Like most mythology, there are two opposing siblings who transform throughout the acto. Joaquin becomes the modern day Robin Hood, stealing from rich and giving to the poor. Domingo, on the hand, is el vendido the one who deny his Chicano identity. There are other characters such as the parents, Pedro y Cruz, their other children Belo, the head of Pancho Villa, and Lupe. But it is Joaquin and Domingo who represent the two opposing forces that each Chican@ deals with on a regular basis.

Domingo represents an extreme representation of cultural amnesia. Like an old pair of jeans that don t fit, Chicano identity is like a spirit Domingo is trying to exorcise. He develops a negative attitude towards his family because they are not Americanized. He believes that his family is defeated and that they need to move out of the barrio. He tries to encourage his mother to move out of the neighborhood. She insists in staying put because she knows that the new neighbors will not accept her son Belo. Domingo in time becomes Mr. Sunday. He is now a social worker who speaks mostly English. He represents the Chican@ who has forgotten where he has come from. His amnesiatic state is so severe that he has experienced a cultural lobotomy.

Joaquin is the Chican@ that becomes aware of who he is and his plight in the scheme of things. He experiences injustice at the hand of the police. Because of the lack of food and poverty in el barrio, he organizes the neighbors to steal from the supermarket. He is arrested and taken to prison to be rehabilitated. When he is released from prison, he is reformed and headless. He represents the Chican@ who fights for social justices but who in time is arrested or becomes too tired to fight. But Huerta says Belarmino the head of Pancho Villa is the hope for the future or the oppression of the present. (Huerta, 59) For this hope to endure, the Chicano will have to get organized by combining the head of Pancho Villa and the headless body of Joaquin.

Even thought this play was written many years ago, it still has relevance to many Chican@s today. Chican@s still have to struggle with who they are in country that looks down upon their cultural values.


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