Teatro de la Tierra


Mexican carpa theater

Teatro de la Tierra is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of Mexican and Latin American art and culture.  Since 1971, Teatro de la Tierra has produced high-quality performance of theater and music that represent the cultural heritage of Mexicans, Chicanos, and Latinos, specifically Chicano theater, a descendant of the popular carpa style of theater that developed in Mexico in the late 1800's.  The teatro (theater) offers free bilingual theatrical training to the community to develop a new generation of artists, creates and produces original works that reflect contemporary issues and living cultural practices, and strives to honor the contributions of and raise the status of low-income Mexican and Latino immigrant laborers.

Teatro de la Tierra is led by NEA National Heritage Fellow Agustin Lira.

As a grantee of ACTA's Community Leadership Project in 2013 and 2010, Teatro de la Tierra received core operating support and capacity building training.

As a grantee in ACTA's Living Cultures Grants Program in 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011, Teatro de la Tierra recieved support for their Generaciones project, which offers free bilingual music education classes in guitar and voice, using Mexican traditional and Latin American folklore to teach participants 12 years and older.  Classes are taught by Agustin Lira and Patricia Wells Solorzano.  A children’s ukelele workshop series and a vocal training workshop series for children ages 8-12 years old are also offered.  In 2012, a choral singing component will be added.

In 2011, a contract from ACTA's Development Program supported a consultancy with webmaster Tim Savage for technology training for Teatro de la Tierra staff and volunteers.

In 2010, a contract from ACTA's Development Program supported a consultancy with Wachanos Media for the documentation of Teatro de la Tierra's 2010 Regeneración project and the production of marketing materials.

As a grantee in ACTA's Living Cultures Grants Program in 2009, Teatro de la Tierra received support for the production of Esperanza & Luz: A Tale of Two Immigrant Women, a play written by Lira, inspired by the firsthand experiences of recent Mexican immigrant participants in the teatro's workshops.  Teatro de la Tierra offered free admission to low income families, children, students, and seniors.

In 2007, a grant from ACTA's Living Cultures Grants Program supported the production A Yellow Rose From Texas – The Story of Emma Tenayca, a bilingual play depicting the life of a labor organizer who, at 16 years of age, mobilized 12,000 pecan shellers in a historic strike that led to the passing of national legislation that raised wages and protected workers rights.

In 2006, Teatro de la Tierra received support from ACTA's Living Cultures Grants Program for their Cuentos y Canciones de Mi Gente (Stories and Songs of My People) project, to develop a performance using Mexican working-class folklore -- including corridos (ballads), rancheras (country music), and carpa-style theater -- to tell stories based on the lives of Chicano and Mexican immigrant families who now reside in Fresno County.  The project included an eight-week improvisation workshop for participating actors.

Excerpts from Teatro de la Tierra's 2010 production of Regeneración.  The following trailer was produced with support from ACTA's Traditional Arts Development Program.

Images

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Agustin Lira leads a theater class at Teatro de la Tierra (Photo: Teatro de la Tierra)
Patricia Wells leads a guitar class at Teatro de la Tierra (Photo: Teatro de la Tierra)

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