By Rogelio Alvarez
“El Bracero,” written by Rosalinda Verde and directed and produced by Miguel Orozco, tells the emotional story of a migrant farm worker in the Bracero Program motivated to reunite with his lover through the artistry of mariachi music.
The play was performed twice last Thursday at Ingalls Auditorium to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
The production was based on the lives of braceros or manual laborers that worked under a series of laws and agreements formed between the United States and Mexico in 1942.
“The bracero play was to give voice to the farm workers and also to thank them because we don’t want them to be forgotten,” Orozco said.
Mariachi Aguilas de Oxnard performed 14 mariachi ballads that tied in to the narrative of the story. The mariachi band performed behind a backdrop and their silhouettes were visible throughout the play.
Each song was filled with emotion that increased the humanistic appeal of the characters.
The majority of the story was narrated by Abuelo, played by Javier Gomez, whose pleasant voice contrasted with the harsh reality he faced as a bracero.
Jonathan Lopez played Noe, a younger version of Abuelo, whose strong acting won the sympathy of the audience members.
Andres Orozco played the antagonist, “El Cepillo,” a racist Mexican-American. His excellent portrayal as the villain provoked many boos and whistles from the audience.
Most of the cast members felt a strong connection to the play because some of their family members were braceros.
“I didn’t know but my grandfather was a bracero and when I told him about this play, he almost cried,” Guillermo Hernandez Perez, who plays a bracero in the play, said.
The play and the music was performed in Spanish. A screen above the stage displayed English subtitles with a slideshow of the migrant farm workers in the Bracero Program.
Associated Student Union members Gilbert Vasquez, Angel Gonzales and Adrian Caseras played bracero extras in the opening scene of the play.
Along with other actors, the three ASU members honored their family members who were former braceros by stating their name and their hometown in Mexico.
Ballet Folklórico Mestizo performed two dance numbers, each eye-pleasing and complementing the mariachi music.
“They helped our country tremendously,” Orozco said. “Just like the immigrants right now.”