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Latino/a Mobility in California History

Genevieve Carpio, Javier Cienfuegos, Ivonne Gonzalez, Karen Lazcano, Katherine Lee Berry, Joshua Mandell, Christofer Rodelo, Alfonso Toro, Authors

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Early Images of El Teatro Campesino

“Very generally, rasquachismo is an underdog perspective - a view from los de abajo. An attitude rooted in resourcefulness and adaptability yet mindful of stance and style… to be rasquache is to be down but not out (fregado pero no jodido). Responding to a direct relationship with the material level of existence or subsistence is what engenders a rasquache attitude of survival and inventiveness “ (Ybarra-Frausto 5).

While the “ESQUIROL” signs in these images may belong to the Brechtian toolbelt of alienation, they certainly fall within the notion of rasquachismo. In the absence of resources like the sets, lights, and costumes offered by fully financed proscenium theatrical productions; the Brechtian presentational style comes naturally to a theatre of “los de abajo.”
The “resourcefulness and adaptability” are apparent in the use of flat-bed trucks as a stage. Flat-bed trucks are a typical part of a rural, agricultural scene. The trucks’ presence on a picket line in the fields make sense, and El Teatro Campesino’s use of them exemplifies that resourcefulness. The scenes can take place on a platform elevated above the audience, and there is no need for any sort of additional construction or scenery. The farmworkers’ very surroundings establish the setting for most of the actos.
Two other important facets of El Teatro Campesino’s aesthetic that seem omnipresent are the NFWA’s eagle and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Although these images are both core parts of the rasquachi aesthetic, for the ways that they boldly assert a unique Mexican identity in the face of the dominant American culture, I will leave the treatment of these two devices to the assessment by colleague, Fonzy Toro.

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