All Brown, All Chingon Captures the Heart & Soul of Latino Men
by Miguel Garcia
Similar to shows like Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues or Josefina Lopez’s 8 Ways to Say I Love My Life And Mean It!, Jose Casas brought four monologues to life at the Hollywood Fringe that capture the heart and soul of Latino men.
The play opens with four men sitting in a circle about to embark on their weekly support group, which seems like an Machismo Anonymous meeting. We first meet “The Playwright” (played by Tom Sandoval) who shares the story of his slain friend, a Chicano student activist named Oscar Enrique Gomez who fought for the equality and advancement of Latinos in higher education. He struggles with accepting the death and the unresolved issues surrounding Oscar’s death.
“The Playwright” is followed by “Alex” (played by Francisco Garcia), a homeboy recounting the poor choices he made that led to a life filled with criminal activity. He finds himself on the brink of a life sentence in prison shortly after the birth of his son, soon to repeat the sad cycle of a son growing up without his father.
In the third monologue, Casas introduces “The Soldier” (played by Daniel Penilla), a man who returns home from Iraq to a world he no longer recognizes. His experiences have left him with the ability to only identify and live as a soldier and not as a son, husband, or father who is part of a family.
Closing the show is “The Poet,” played by Juan Enrique Castillo, a portrait of a man who renounces machismo by confessing his love and devotion to his soul mate. He also teaches his five-year old nephew what qualities make a real man, sharing life lessons like, “respeto for self is respect for life…keeping the hurt inside is the slowest form of suicide…it’s alright to fall in love.”
The writing of the final monologue truly captures the message behind Casas’ profound work: to give the hearts and souls of Latino men a space where machismo-driven paradigms are broken; where vulnerability, humility, and heart are the foundation of what makes a strong and powerful Latino man, someone who is authentically All Brown, All Chingon. Juan Enrique Castillo’s rhythmic delivery of the spoken word poetry was particularly strong. So much so that all the women in the front row melted a bit by his final line.
These stories that capture the vulnerability and heart of Latino men are few and far between, especially when compared to their Latina hermanas and LGBT counterparts. This collection of monologues portrays Latino men at their highs and their lows, giving a realistic and balanced perspective of what makes a man strong and powerful. While some stories may have more positive endings than others, the power of this show lies in that each character has the courage to tell their story, with all mistakes and imperfections included. All Brown, All Chingon suggests that to be a great man is not about acting invincible, or being perfect like a superhero; rather, that honesty and humility are a man’s true superpowers against outdated notions of machismo.
If this is only the beginning of a larger collection that captures unexplored territory by depicting the full emotional range Latino men are inherently capable of, I definitely look forward to it.
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All Brown, All Chingon
Written by Jose Casas
Directed by Alejandra Cisneros
Theatre Asylum Lab
1078 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Additional information available at the Hollywood Fringe Festival Website.