Theater brings two LatinX-themed shows to the virtual stage

In this brave new online landscape where actors work in isolation in front of green screens and technical artists combine performances into one virtual space, the show still must go on.

University Theatre will virtually present “Watermelon Kisses” and “Marisol’s Christmas,” two one-act plays that celebrate the importance of family and storytelling within the LatinX community.

The reading of the plays will be streamed on the theater arts YouTube page through June 30.

Associate professor of theater arts and director Theresa May regularly incorporates the work of José Cruz González, an award-wining playwright and professor of theater at California State University, Los Angeles, into her LatinX theater seminars.

“Our Zoomland/pandemic year seemed the right time to do two short plays from José Cruz’s collection of ‘Plays for Young Audiences,’” May said. “While the plays are written with young audiences in mind, these two plays, which celebrate heritage, language and culture of Mexican Americans and their contributions to U.S. society, are also poignantly relevant.”

In “Watermelon Kisses,” two Mexican American brothers, Tlāloc and Quetzal — named after Mayan and Aztec gods, respectively — contemplate the mystery of what happens when you swallow a watermelon seed. “Marisol’s Christmas” is the story of a family that takes refuge under an overpass after crossing the U.S./Mexican border on Christmas Eve.

“I really enjoy both shows as they tell the story of Mexicans and Mexican Americans,” said undergraduate student Fausto Corral, who plays Queztal in “Watermelon Kisses. “As a Mexican American myself, I appreciate that we are doing these shows as we push for representation in the theater.”

González, whose recent hit musical “American Mariachi” premiered at the Dallas Theatre Center, has also written for PAZ, the Emmy Award-nominated television series produced by Discovery Kids for The Learning Channel.

—By Sharleen Nelson, University Communications