FROM TC: I'm taking Friday off. "You've Cott Mail" will return next Monday.


When labels don't fit: Hispanics and their views of identity

Paul Taylor, Mark Hugo Lopez, Jessica Hamar Martínez & Gabriel Velasco, Hispanic Trending blog, 4/4/12  Nearly four decades after the US government mandated the use of the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" to categorize Americans who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries, a new nationwide survey of Hispanic adults finds that these terms still haven't been fully embraced by Hispanics themselves. A majority (51%) say they most often identify themselves by their family's country of origin; just 24% say they prefer a pan-ethnic label. Moreover, by a ratio of more than two-to-one (69% versus 29%), survey respondents say that the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S. have many different cultures rather than a common culture. Respondents do, however, express a strong, shared connection to the Spanish language. 82% of Latino adults say they speak Spanish, and 95% say it is important for future generations to continue to do so. Hispanics are also divided over how much of a common identity they share with other Americans. 47% say they consider themselves to be very different from the typical American. Download the full research report 

Commentary: A bilingual playwright, resisting the label of "Latino"

Caridad Svich, Theatre Communications Group blog, 3/13/12

As a bilingual child of immigrants from Cuba and Argentina...I've spent most of my writing life challenging and resisting labels and categories. Perhaps the fact that I trained with master playwright and teacher Maria Irene Fornes has something to do with my wariness of labels. After all, Fornes' example was one of sublime resistance. She wrote all different kinds of plays over a forty-year period....As a playwright, my mission has never been to speak for the Americas. Who could? In all their raging and beautiful complexity and diversity. But I have spent a great deal of time speaking to the Americas that can be sung and spoken of and made visible on US stages. I know that, for me, Luis Valdez and Maria Irene Fornes [are] models of how to go about things as a dramatist in the complicated theoretical space which is part of [being] Latino/a writing identity for the stage. John Jesurun is also a model. So are Lynne Alvarez and Jose Rivera and Milcha Sanchez-Scott and many more. But I'm also part of a history that includes Euripides, Eugene O'Neill, Sam Shepard, Adrienne Kennedy, Joe Orton, Caryl Churchill, Miguel Pinero, Ana Mendieta, Lillian Hellman, Ntzoke Shange, Federico Garcia Lorca, and...and...


Here's a small sampling of recent stories from around the country:


Florida theater presents Shakespeare with a Cuban twist

Jay Handelman, Sarasota [FL] Herald-Tribune, 3/16/12

Michael Donald Edwards has [big] intentions with his bilingual Asolo Repertory Theatre production of Hamlet set in 1898 Cuba. [It] is intended not only to bring new insights to what is arguably Shakespeare's greatest play, but also to become a cultural bridge to Florida's Spanish-speaking population. "The Spanish-speaking audience goes to the ballet and orchestra concerts, but not so much to the theater," Edwards said. "We have to realize that in just a few years, Spanish will be the first language of about 50% of [Florida's] population. We have to reach out to that population." The Australian-born Edwards said ideas for this Hamlet were inspired by relationships he has forged with Hispanic artists, including the Cuban-born, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz, who has written the Spanish translation. Edwards set [this production] around the time of the invasion led by José Marti and the beginning of the American presence in Cuba as Cubans revolted against Spanish leaders. Frankie Alvarez, who plays Hamlet, [said]: "We can't understand Cuba today without yesterday's Cuba and its relationship with America... Hopefully a production like this can open a conversation and make some changes."


Dallas Theater Center to involve more Latino artists over next 3 seasons

Lawson Taitte, Dallas Morning News, 3/30/12

Outtake from yesterday's interview with the Dallas Theater Center's artistic director, Kevin Moriarty, about the 2012-2013 season he announced Thursday: There's a big ongoing push toward involving Latino artists and audiences in the theater. A new Hispanic author will figure in each of the next three seasons, and you can expect some new Hispanic members in the acting company. Moriarty has been in contact with TCU grad Jaime Castaneda and former Fort Worth director since he got to town; now he's hired the young director to stage Kristoffer Diaz's show for next season. Also, the DTC will be developing relationships with Latino-led companies in Dallas.


At a New Jersey theater, tossing small stones to change an entire landscape

Kacy O'Brien, Americans for the Arts blog, 4/3/12

At the theatre I work for (Passage Theatre in Trenton, NJ), Executive Artistic Director June Ballinger has taken programmatic risks that many would not in a down economy. In 2010, June and resident playwright David Lee White created an interview-based play called Trenton Lights. From the interviews and audience response came a realization that the vast Latino community in Trenton was fairly isolated, attending programs hosted only by various Latino organizations and rarely venturing outside that sphere. [Next,] June decided to bring a bilingual documentary theatre piece on youth immigration and gang warfare called De Novo: Más allá de las Fronteras by Jeffrey Solomon and Houses on the Moon Theatre Company. Political work can often be viewed as a programmatic death wish, but the response from the Latino community -- and from Passage's regular patrons -- was overwhelming. Attendance was high, new patrons came through our doors, and the talkbacks were rich and emotional. Local problem-solving entered the discourse and Latino community members made connections with politically active citizens of Trenton, which resulted in joint presentations before City Council. Arts institutions won't be able to serve all of our communities all of the time, but if the majority of arts institutions serve many parts of our community in ways that matter, together we will be tossing the small stones needed to change an entire landscape.


Media outlets adapt to growing Hispanic audience

Greg Allen, NPR Morning Edition, 4/3/12

Rapid growth in the U.S. Hispanic community has created another boom -- in Hispanic media. In recent months, several major media players have announced a new Hispanic broadcast TV network, plus a host of new cable channels aimed at Latinos. The numbers tell the story: According to the census, the U.S. Hispanic population jumped by more than 40% in the past decade. The nation's 50 million-plus Hispanics now make up 16% of the TV-viewing public. And those numbers are expected to grow. Univision is already the nation's fourth-largest network. In some markets and time slots, it hits No. 1. "Historically, Univision was Spanish first and Spanish only. They were adamant about that," says Roberto Orci, CEO of Acento Advertising. That's beginning to change: Univision recently began broadcasting its prime-time telenovelas with English subtitles -- something competitor Telemundo has done for years. That's a nod to changes in the population. Research shows some 80% of the Latino population are bilingual or prefer English. Orci says, "We have to appeal to them in culture, but in the language of their preference." The competition for that rapidly growing Hispanic bicultural market is happening not just in television, but also in radio and social media, and on the Web and mobile platforms. For media companies looking to grow, Hispanics now look less like a niche market, and more like the future.

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