After its triumphant world premiere at the Guadalupe Theater last August, Anna De Luna’s Carmen from Mexico is returning to the Guadalupe’s Teatro Salon this coming weekend, Apr. 15 and 16. Written and performed by Ms. De Luna, this is the heartfelt story of her mother’s journey from Mexico to the United States, and the challenges she faced along the way.
Ms. De Luna was kind enough to talk to ArtScene SA about the show, and what’s been happening with it since last year.
Back you go to the Guadalupe, eh?
Yes! I did this at the Guadalupe last August. Carmen from Mexico is a piece that’s been kind of progressing. I got an artist’s grant from the City of San Antonio which allowed me to complete it. So we have another date — this weekend, Apr. 15 and 16, and I’m really excited about it.
And you’ve got the same team back…
Yes, all the usual suspects! I have two musicians: Mike Ryan on guitar and Michael Galindo on accordion. They’re onstage with me the whole time. They help to set the mood, and every once in a while, I break out in song. These monologues can get a little wordy, so I think the audience needs to take a little break with some music.
Tell the uninitiated what Carmen from Mexico is all about.
This play is about my mother’s childhood. She was brought to the United States by my grandmother when she was eight years old in 1951, and when I was growing up, I always remembered hearing stories about how they crossed over.
I was always amazed by these stories. A lot of them were harrowing, but a lot of them were funny, like her adapting to Texas culture. Over the years, I’ve interviewed her for other projects, but then I decided I wanted to expand on her story. I just wanted to show real people, the real Mexican experience. The people are hard-working. They’re not rapists or doing drugs. I wanted to give them a human face — especially with a child’s experience.
I play a lot of characters in the show, including my grandmother and all of her ex-husbands…
All of her ex-husbands?
Yeah, a big part of the story involves my grandmother. She got married and divorced a lot. She was a hard-working woman. She came out of extreme poverty, but she worked and worked and raised two daughters. She was always working. That’s why she decided to cross — for a better life for herself and her daughters. And me too, you know?
What was the genesis of Carmen from Mexico?
It started about five years ago, and culminated with a 15- or 20-minute piece at the Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival. That was really well-received, and I was kind of surprised at the reaction. So I continued to work on it, and it grew from there. I just really buckled down.
I met with Jorge Piña at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. I’ve known him for years. He’s always supported me and other artists. He continues to encourage local theater artists to write their own original work. He had seen a shorter version of the piece and he needed something longer for Teatro Salon. It took a few years, but the deadlines helped!
This is the fourth solo show I’ve written, but I think it’s the one I’m most proud of because it’s so personal.
You’d mentioned in earlier interviews that your mother liked the shorter versions of the show, and you were wondering how she’d like this version. Did it work out?
Yeah! She was at Opening Night last August. She really enjoyed it, and I was glad. I’ve been really fortunate, because she’s been really generous with her story. 95 percent is all true, and five percent is storytelling – theater speak, you know? But it is her story and she’s enjoyed it so far!
And you were hoping to take it on the road, and now you’re going to Denver.
Yeah! I wanted to tour after I did it last August, but I got involved in a lot of other people’s projects. I kind of stopped and thought, “Okay. I really need to get this going.” I thought this was something I could travel with, because it’s so relatable to so many people — the Latinx culture and everywhere. Denver is just the beginning. I want to travel everywhere with the show.
Carmen from Mexico plays Friday, Apr. 15 and Saturday, Apr. 16 at the Guadalupe Theater, 1301 Guadalupe St. Curtain is at 8:00 p.m., and tickets are available here.
Feature photo: Anna De Luna and mother Carmen (jojodancerphotos).