by Eileen Rivera
Growing up is an adventure, no matter where you do it. While I was born and raised in the Bronx, I actually grew up in Haverstraw, NY, a town on the banks of the Hudson River. My sister and I went from being cooped up in an apartment to living in a place where you came inside when the streetlights came on. It was a place where you could trick-or-treat without your parents following you. It was a study in contrasts that I didn’t fully appreciate until I was an adult with children of my own. There were secrets told by flashlight, kisses stolen behind the big maple tree, diaries stashed under mattresses and names doodled on notebook covers. Having painted that picture with words, could I get up on a stage and act out my deepest, darkest secrets in front of strangers?
I recently attended two performances that did just that. Two people got on two different stages and acted out vignettes from their lives, in performances so honest and raw that I couldn’t help but admire them. One show moved from off-off-Broadway to off-Broadway in a year’s time. The other show was so off-Broadway it was in the Bronx.
“Father forgive me for I have Sinned” is the one-man show written by actor Jose Roldan Jr. It is the story of a man born and raised, on 143rd St and Brook Ave. in the South Bronx, at a time when your whole life revolved around a few blocks. Jose’s life didn’t expand until high school when he ventured out into the world…Manhattan. An older sister depicted as jealous and a younger sister depicted as the favored child, leaving Jose to bear the brunt of attacks from neighborhood bullies and a disappointed father. The revelation of his sexual preference, to his mother, had my friends in tears as we relived the experience right along with him.
“Brownsville Bred” is Elaine Del Valle’s account of growing up in her area of Brooklyn. In 90 minutes, Elaine took us all for a joyride through her adventures growing up. From running around an empty school, with her siblings, while her custodian father cleaned, to being assaulted at a rap concert and later learning to love salsa music; we follow her exploits through life with a laugh, a tear and a gasp. We watch as she learns that, while one grandmother views her as one of many, the other views her as a beautiful princess. We share the heartache of her father’s illness and death, and the miracle of birth as she acts as her mother’s birth coach.
While both shows were limited runs, we have high hopes that both these talented Latinos will bring their performances to new venues and new audiences. This is the wave of the future and we must all support Latino productions so that there will be many more to come.
Copy Editor, Eileen Rivera.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.