In the small west Texas town of Balmorhea, where playwright Liz Coronado Castillo grew up, she often sat around the kitchen table soaking up the funny stories her grandmother and aunts would swap over coffee.
“It’s how I learned to be storyteller,” says Coronado Castillo, a resident playwright at Sul Ross University in Alpine. “We take for granted our conversations around the table at Christmas time, birthday parties or baptisms sometimes.”
Coronado Castillo’s bilingual comedy “Aye, No!,” which will be presented by Teatro Vivo starting Thursday at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, reaches beyond the laughs to shine a light on sexual identity in a culturally relevant and entertaining way.
“Aye, No!” brings to life the story of Alicia, a college student from a small border town, who decides to bring a friend home from college to meet her traditional Mexican family. While Alicia’s well-intentioned grandmother and two nosey aunts expect a boyfriend to walk in the room, instead they meet Alicia’s girlfriend Cathy.
“I view theater as a social and political platform,” says Coronado Castillo, 36, who is also a stand-up comic. “And we can say a lot more and get a lot more people to listen and come together through humor.”
Coronado Castillo’s characters often reflect amplified versions of real people, she says. In the play, Alicia turns to the guidance of her three fairy drag queen friends — characters inspired by friendships Coronado Castillo forged with drag queens in Lubbock.
While attending graduate school at Texas Tech, Coronado Castillo periodically performed her stand-up act in gay bars where she was embraced by the drag queen community.
Coronado Castillo, who identifies herself as a gay Chicana theater artist and educator, says she’s wanted to incorporate drag queens into her plays ever since. “Here I was from a small community, and then I’m suddenly surrounded by drag queens,” she says. “It was crazy, and felt like I was having a movie moment.”
Coronado Castillo says she wanted to find a way to humanize drag queens in her work, and so far audiences have been intrigued. “People can’t get enough of those old ladies who clash with the drag queens,” she says. “Comedy is a universal language.”
Catch “Aye, No!” at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m.Sundays, from Thursday through Nov. 23. Tickets, which are $14-$20, are available at http://ayeno.bpt.me.
Women and Fair Trade Festival
Vibrant colors, intricate designs and centuries worth of history always draw me to the textiles of Latin America, which I’ve collected throughout my travels. From the molas of Panama to the huipiles of Mexico, I’ve learned so much about the diverse indigenous communities of the world through the artisanal work of each country.
As you begin holiday shopping next month, go off-the-beaten path and venture to the Women and Fair Trade Festival on Nov. 22-23 at the Old School (1604 E. 11th St.). The marketplace, which is sponsored by the nonprofit Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera (Austin So Close to the Border), brings eight artisan producers from women’s cooperatives ranging from Palestine to Guatemala.
Shoppers will find gifts from vintage Indian saris to Central American pottery from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festive atmosphere also includes live music and poetry. Visit womenandfairtrade.weebly.com for the list of vendors and music lineup.
Little Joe Hernandez movie
Whether you’ve danced to his music at one of his performances or played his songs at a family pachanga, chances are that most Tejano music fans have many memories tied to the noted discography of the legendary Little Joe y La Familia.
At 74, Little Joe Hernandez has been entertaining audiences for decades and blazed a trail for Tex-Mex music in the process, earning him the nickname “King of the Brown Sound.”
Hernandez, who has done everything from squash musical and cultural barriers to energize the Chicano movement, will soon be the subject of a 2015 documentary. The filmmakers have spent about two years conducting interviews and collecting archival material that dates back to Hernandez’s early music days in the 1950s. Making appearances in the documentary are musician Ray Benson and comedian and actor Cheech Marin.
“From a modest beginning in Temple (Texas) to an iconic entertainer … everybody loves Joe,” says Una Jean McGinnis, the executive director of “Recuerdos: The Life & Music of Little Joe.” McGinnis also grew up in Temple and says she’s always been drawn to the hometown hero’s history, which includes a humble family life picking cotton and the tragic death of his younger brother.
Check for updates on the Little Joe y La Familia Facebook page.
WELCOME TO CULTURA EN AUSTIN
Cultura en Austin is a monthly column highlighting Latino-related cultural events in Austin. Look for it on the last Friday of the month. You can also find the Cultura en Austin blog on austin360.com.
Nancy Flores grew up in the Texas border town of Eagle Pass and has been covering Latino culture for the American-Statesman and Austin360 since 2011. Before that, she covered Latino issues as a journalist in Mexico City. Send tips or suggestions to email@example.com.