AMP: One-Woman Show Tells Story Of Border Blues

Photo Credit: Africano Fotografia

By Kamren Curiel
Inspired by a VHS video she saw of John Leguizamo's one-man Broadway show, Freak, Brooklyn-based performing arts activist and educator, Yadira De La Riva, decided to write her own story for the stage.
"My theatre friends and I watched it so many times, we wore the VHS tape thin before learning all the words and characters," De La Riva says. "I was determined to create a play that represented my community and exposed the cultural and political complexities we experience on the border everyday."

One Journey: Stitching Stories Across the Mexican "American" Border was born out of the U.C. Santa Cruz grad's desire to share her experience growing up on the border of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez. The daughter of a maquiladora worker mother, who spent half of her life on factory assembly lines before losing her job after NAFTA passed in 1994, De La Riva witnessed, firsthand, the effects 9-11 had on U.S. immigration policy.

She saw the creation of a  2,000-mile-long wall that separates the U.S. from Mexico, but did more than heighten security; it brought a wave of transnational organized crime, violence and broken families. The cost of passports needed to travel from Juarez to El Paso rose, making it difficult to see family during the holidays.

"Although I have the privilege to be a U.S. citizen, many of the laws that criminalize immigrants in the U.S. enforce racial profiling and make me a suspect simply based on my appearance," she says.

De La Riva, who received a master's degree from NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study in "artivism performance art as a means of cultural resistance," conducted extensive interviews with family and community members along the border before writing the play. One Journey weaves these complex tales with music, dance, poetry and humor in an attempt to humanize the border experience.

She gained experience as an intern in Brazil for the international social change-driven Theater of the Oppressed, which brings people together to rehearse ways of fighting back against oppression. De La Riva toured Rio de Janeiro, addressing women domestic workers and young people's struggle with peer pressure. De La Riva has since taught theatre to young people in California, New York, Mexico and Cuba.

"I'm looking forward to the Latino community demanding immigration reform designed by us which will be inclusive of all marginalized people of this nation and backed by a long-term ideology of justice and respect for human values."

De La Riva will be performing One Journey in 2012 at colleges, universities, organizations and theaters in California, New York and Mexico. Hit up and for more information.

Kamren Curiel is a Digital Media Editor at Voto Latino and freelance writer for Remezcla and MTV Iggy. Her column, AMP (Art Music Politics), profiles artists and musicians that are dedicated to a cause.