Decorating the walls of the Kresge stage on Friday, May 9 were five, life-size, hand-made posters of the women’s nude bodies, with rectangular boxes covering the private bits. Written on them were personal self-comments such as “Cuban butt” and “my saddlebags have a life of their own.” The posters unabashedly pointed out the flaws of the women’s physiques, such as cellulite, thunder thighs, and short legs, and conveyed a message of “we may not look like sexpot supermodels, but this is who we are.” The stage was set for the night’s performance, entitled S-E-X-oh!
S-E-X-oh! was showcased by Teatro Luna, an all-Latina/Hispanic, all-female Theatre Company and ensemble from Chicago. They had performed this same play at Knox College two years ago. The event, organized by Knox’s Lo Nuestro, marks and commemorates the end of Latino Pride Week. Teatro Luna has spent the last three years touring and performing at various Universities across the country, among which are Brown, Michigan, Columbia, and San Hose State.
“It wasn’t difficult at all to book them,” said Lo Nuestro’s Vice-president, junior Angelica Fragoso. “They were very understanding.”
Teatro Luna was officially established in 2000, by Tanya Saracho and Coya Paz. There are currently seven members of the company, of whom five performed in Friday’s S-E-X-oh! The women come from varied backgrounds and locations, as close as Chicago and as far as Peru.
The group was concerned with both the absence of official Latina theater groups as well as the noticeable lack of multi-dimensional roles for Latina and Hispanic women. Many acting roles delegated to those of Hispanic heritage often exemplify the Hispanic stereotypes: illegal immigrants, gang bangers, maids and service workers, sex bombs, and barefoot pregnant women. Teatro Luna wanted to give Latina performance artists the opportunity to break out of the typecasting mold.
“There are too many roles that are Latina stereotypes,” one performer said. “We wanted to tell the truth about our lives, and what it means to be a Latina woman.”
All of the works done by Teatro Luna are fully original and autobiographically rich. Just by meeting each other and talking together, they discovered they had a lot of stories to tell and meaningful life experiences to share. S-E-X-oh! is their fourth original production.
While S-E-X-oh! was about sex, it is also about life experiences. What marked it was its openness regarding imperfections, raw realism, and uncensored honesty. Before the play began, one of the actresses warned the audience that there would be use of words like “pussy, wet pussy, lesbian, and fuck” and then the play began with a chorus of orgasmic “oh!”s.
The play included monologues, comic sketches, and poetry. The life experiences told through the play ranged from the serious (difficulties and tribulations of pregnancy and single parenthood) to absurd (phone-sex male customers), to comical (a piquant fondness for Bible stories and game joysticks). The play did not try to sugarcoat matters related to sex, such as first-time sex.
The loss of virginity, as revealed in the play, was not some flawless, fairytale, rose garden experience, but can be awkward, painful, and sometimes even downright gross. The play touched upon certain family pressures, such as the expectation to be a good, proper girl. Events told through the play were those a lot of women can relate to and probably have experienced at some point in their lives, such as sexist, disrespectful and obnoxious verbal treatment like catcalls from men.
All in all, the play was a success, ending with a generous and resonating applause.
“I loved Teatro Luna’s performance. It was hilarious but also thought provoking” said senior Ellen Vessels. “I appreciated how personal it was — you can learn so much from hearing women’s personal experiences.”