REVIEW: The Stories of Cesar Chavez ensure the labour leader remains
larger than life
Mon, June 22, 2009
By KATHY RUMLESKI, FREE PRESS REPORTER
Fred Blanco is making Cesar Chavez a hero.
The California actor has opened up the labour leader and civil rights
activist's story to a whole new audience.
For the first time at the London Fringe, Blanco is bringing his
one-man play, The Stories of Cesar Chavez, to an audience outside of the U.S.
It's a story worth telling and that anyone can appreciate.
Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers, believed in the
equality of all men and women, whether a migrant farm worker or a
Chavez was also a storyteller. He gave his lessons through his tales
and now Blanco keeps those stories alive.
Weaving young and old, brown and white, male and female characters
into his show, the narrative is colourfully unfolded before an
Blanco shows us the young Chavez, picking oranges and apricots.
Despite their humble place, Chavez and his boyhood friends "would
dream and we would hope."
As a young man, he stood up for justice in the movie theatres of the
1940s, refusing to move from the white section.
Then we see him as a passionate speaker, a caring leader and a dying
Blanco's other characters leave just as much of an impression.
From the stereotypical teamster with the tough talk and the
sunglasses to the bent over, self-deprecating "hag" with the aching
joints, Blanco moves through his piece seamlessly, interspersing
Spanish and English.
While the little Mexican Americans were told to speak English in
school and rapped on their knuckles if they didn't, Blanco proudly
speaks Spanish and we all understand.
There are times he stays with a character for too long. With a bit of
tinkering and tightening, he won't lose his audience for even a moment.
Blanco takes us on a pilgrimage with the sacrificial Chavez and we
want to follow.
Chavez -- who offered himself up for the workers and their families,
literally and figuratively, and the sacrifice is symbolized in the
offering to the Virgen de Guadalupe -- is a figure larger than life.
The Stories of Cesar Chavez are making sure he remains that way.
5 p.m -- Naughty Little Children
8 p.m. -- I Only See Shadows
9:30 p.m. -- Trashcan Duet
The Arts Project
5:30 p.m. -- Voices from the Garden
7:30 p.m. -- Preparation Hex
9 p.m. -- So Many Boo-Boos
10:15 p.m. -- TransCanada 69
Wolf Performance Hall
6:30 p.m. -- Spilt Milk
8 p.m. -- Magical Mystery Tour
9:30 p.m. -- The Impresario
McManus Studio Theatre
5:30 p.m. -- The C*ck Whisperer
7 p.m. -- Being at Home With Claude
8:30 p.m. -- The Barker's Spiel
10 p.m. -- Never Swim Alone
Fanshawe College Theatre
8 p.m. -- Giving Into Light
9:30 p.m. -- The Magician Reverend Nuge
7 p.m. -- Antoine Feval
9 p.m -- He Ain't Heavy
The Black Shire
9:15 p.m. -- Spitfire
IF YOU GO
What: The Stories of Cesar Chavez
Where: The Arts Project
Next: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Rating: 41/2 (out of five)
Fringe Benefit: Campesino and Patroncito theatre show for the workers