THE REVOLUTIONIST – Written by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales; Directed by Anthony J. Garcia. Presented by Su Teatro (721 Santa Fe Drive, Denver) through July 1. Tickets available at 303/296-0219 or www.suteatro.org.
Anyone who has lived in Denver through the 60’s and 70’s of the last century knows the work of Corky Gonzales as a community activist and leader of the Chicano movement. Depending on your politics, Corky was either a good guy or a trouble maker. But regardless, he was a force to be reckoned with. But not many know of his softer side – that of poet and playwright. His epic poem “I Am Joaquin” became a rallying cry for La Raza as it celebrated the many who had died in the battle for Hispanic recognition and independence. “I ride with the Revolutionists. . .“
The solitary revolutionist in this play presented by Su Teatro, however, is an older man who has come back to Denver to live out the remainder of his life surrounded by his family. He finds, to his dismay, that his sons have lost their fire, have settled into accepting government stipends like unemployment insurance and welfare. Their women are providing the income and running the families. His grandchildren have no pride in their heritage or respect for their elders. He feels that the city has cursed his family. Jose Jaramillo and his wife Maria become symbols for what has been and for what has been lost. To him, the role of a man is to work and provide for his family. His inability to find work and refusal to lean on government handouts weighs heavily on his pride. Jose’s feisty attitude soon lands him in trouble with the police, sending the family into further turmoil.
This could be a reflection of Corky’s own family or of the family life he witnessed as he grew older himself. It does not present a positive picture of the homogenization of American culture or – as they refer to it – the good old American Bleach. The modern generation does not respect or honor the sacrifices of those in the past. During the course of the production, flashbacks reveal scenes from the past that represents the history that Jose remembers and loves to remind his sons and grandsons that he lived through. As troubles begin to compound, everyone in the family thinks it is all their fault.
The cast is lead by Charlie Romero and Debra Gallegos as Jose and Maria in heartfelt performances. Their sons are played by Phil Luna and Camilo Luera. Maru Garcia stands out as the partera or midwife who assists in a miscarriage and offers commonplace advice. This is not the best written play about this subject and, in this production, occasionally moves slowly. But as a window into a Hispanic household, it is illuminating.
A WOW factor of 8!