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Theater Reviews 

Including this week's picks The Car Plays, San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Second Annual Latino New Works Festival

Wednesday, Sep 13 2006
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THEY SHOOT MEXICANS, DON’T THEY? Based loosely on her family history, director/co-writer Teresa Chavez offers a glimpse at how Hollywood stereotyped Mexicans and other Latinos in this ambitious yet rather listless production that mixes dance, music, video images and live action. In 1927, dance instructor La Maestra (co-writer Rose Portillo) provided performers for The Mission Play, a highly romanticized and whitewashed portrayal of the Spaniards’ “civilizing” of California’s native population that was popular with L.A.’s white denizens. When a producer (Michael Manuel) plans to film the play, conflicts emerge between La Maestra’s commitment to traditional choreography and her nephew Raoul’s (Manuel again) penchant for the modern, as well as between the producer’s vision of Mexican society and that of La Maestra. While entertaining and enlightening, the play contains a convoluted story that gets further bogged down with subplots. One depicts the comical efforts of Raoul’s sister, Rosita (Portillo), to become the next Dolores del Rio; another follows the modern-day descendant of La Maestra, Gloria (Portillo again), a film historian who screens vintage bigoted film clips. The evocative musical interludes from the band Orquesta California, composed by members Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores, and Francisco Martinez’s diverting choreography are added pluses for this well-intentioned presentation. AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 1. (323) 667-7000. (Martín Hernández)

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