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Don't have an account yet? Get the most out of your experience with a personalized all-access pass to everything local on events, music, restaurants, news and more. It comes, perhaps, from Prida's evaluation of her childhood in Caibarien, a settlement on the northern coast of Cuba.
Her impoverished household seemed practically a sitcom: "My mother, who is now dead, was the typical Latina mother, the martyr type," she once said in an interview. My mother knew, so there was a soap opera every night.
In other words, instead of becoming the butt of some joke, Dolores Prida decided to rewrite the punch line. In every culture, the history of live theater has seen fools used for liberation, for exorcism, for empowerment--but never more effectively than when they are equally focused on tickling our ribs till they rattle.
That was always foremost on the agenda when the author, as a journalist and a new American, began to work with the Lower East Side collective Teatro Popular in New York City in Mexican, Cuban, and South American theater, she said, was at the time either a brainlessly entertaining excuse for the wealthy to wear their silk outfits, or an absolutist, somewhat gloomy tirade by the politically and economically dispossessed against the status quo.
Prida wanted to fuse the best elements of the two, while still maintaining a leftist bias toward sympathizing with those who have been made to feel lesser--often, if only by implication--because they are different from the dominant cultural image. Wolfe to the conceptual punch. Both her musical and his oft-produced comedy The Colored Museum apply the same framework: A poker-faced host guides the audience through a revue of racial stereotypes to reveal how pebbles of truth can sediment into great big boulders that crush individuality.