“I am finally doing a solo play, working without my Culture Clash partners [Herbert Siguenza & Richard Montoya]. Cris Franco is such a great writer and this piece of his really spoke to me. I’ve been doing political theater for over 30 years. We do satire, comedy and social commentary. It’s often about themes that are very heavy. This play, 57 Chevy, is an immigrant story, a comedy that is not intended to be political at all, but it may turn out to be my most political piece. I’m doing it, in part, because it is about time for Latinos to tell their stories, just like the Jewish and African American communities have been doing. Cris’s play could be described as a Latino Wonder Years. The car is a metaphor for the American dream. The father buys that 57 Chevy in Mexico, made from U.S. steel. It has no power windows or power brakes, just a solid vehicle that takes him and his family from Mexico to South Central Avenue in LA and then to the San Fernando Valley—a double migration. Over the years, that car, as classic as it is, becomes out of place as the new Pontiacs and Plymouths emerge with their more modern looks and their power everything; but the dad won’t give up his Chevy. He is trying to hold onto the original values and integrity he had as a hard-working laborer from Mexico, while he watches his son becoming a different person, hanging out with Valley dudes. Another reason I decided to do this play is I got tired of all the immigrant bashing, insinuating there’s this sinister plot that immigrants are going to come here to destroy America. Cris’s play is an immigrant story that displays just how this country works at its best.”
Julio Martinez-hosted Arts in Review—celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area—airs Fridays (2-2:30pm) on KPFK (90.7FM).