December 17, 2014

Books in El Barrio: The Panza Monologues is a Bestseller at La Casa Azul Bookstore

We are so honored to announce that The Panza Monologues is on La Casa Azul Bookstore's Top 20 bestselling books in 2014 list. The list also includes writers such as Sonia Manzano, Junot Diaz, Willie Perdomo, Toni Ann Johnson, Esmeralda Santiago, Piri Thomas, and La Bruja to name just a few. Casa Azul hosted our New York City Book Release Party produced by Radical Evolution and just weeks ago Virginia Grise participated in their Authors as Booksellers Event. We are so grateful to be a part of this community and applaud their work promoting Latino/a Literature in El Barrio. Gracias Aurora Anaya Guerrero and Casa Azul Bookstore! Now you have a list of which books to buy this holiday season! Support Independent Bookstores and Booksellers.

December 10, 2014

DIY Panza Featuring Kayleigh Melite at SUNY, Oneonta

This is the first post in a new series on our blog - "DIY Panza" - highlighting the work of college students and cultural workers that produce Panza Monologues events of their own on their campuses and in their communities. Over the years, students have produced The Panza Monologues on college campuses across the nation, including Cal State Monterrey Bay, Cal State Long Beach, University of Colorado Boulder, Oregon State University, University of Texas at San Antonio, Mills College, and most recently, University of California Riverside and SUNY Oneonta. We are always grateful, humbled and honored by these efforts because we know first hand just how hard it can be to make theater. Our second edition of the play in publication was specifically conceived of and designed to help make the process of making theatre just a little bit easier. We included numerous kinds of materials to accompany the script including a DIY Production Manual, full of guidelines, advice and good wishes for staging The Panza Monologues

Kayleigh Melite recently used this manual to direct and produce The Panza Monologues at SUNY Oneonta. We were impressed by her professionalism and care throughout the process - just look at her request letter to produce the show HERE to see what we mean. Gracias Kayleigh for making our panzas yours. 

Power to the Panza!

Name: Kayleigh Melite 
Kayleigh Melite
Hometown: Clifton Park, NY

A lot of people who aren’t from New York don’t realize that there is more to the state than just a big, bustling city at the southeastern corner. I’m from a suburban town in Saratoga County, and have only been to “The City” a handful of times. When I do make a trip downstate, my favorite restaurant of all time is Bareburger. I come from a relatively large family and am the second oldest out of five children. 

What school do you attend?
I’m currently a Senior at SUNY Oneonta, majoring in Biology and minoring in Theatre. I have no idea what I want to do when I graduate. Right now I’m President of the Theatre Honor Society on campus, which has just partnered with another group that I’ve been involved with for the past few years - The Identity Play Reading Series. 

The Identity Play Reading Series is a group of students, faculty, and community members who seek to produce staged readings of plays about different facets of identity, including but not limited to:  gender, ethnicity, age, disabilities, occupation, and interpersonal relationships. We explore the differences, but more importantly the similarities, between individuals. We hold an open dialogue at the end of each staged reading to discuss the pertinent issues of the play and ask the audience for their thoughts and reactions. I recently produced and directed a staged reading of The Panza Monologues as part of the series. 

Can you describe the event you produced? 
The Panza Monologues was performed in the Hamblin Theater, SUNY Oneonta’s black box space. I ended up casting four women to tackle this one-woman show. One thing instilled in me by my experience with collegiate theatre is that theatre is a collaborative art form. I wanted to involve many students in my staged reading of The Panza Monologues for this reason. Each one of my actresses/readers brought something unique to the performance, and I tried to utilize their contrasting energies to bring alive the stories in the script. 

What did you learn producing The Panza Monologues on your campus? 
There was one significant challenge I faced while trying to put together this staged reading:  the majority of my campus is white. For any other play this wouldn't matter, but The Panza Monologues calls for a strong female lead that can speak Spanish fluently. I needed a woman who could deliver the Spanish, and deliver it authentically. I am not embarrassed to admit that I don’t even speak 

Spanish myself. I know some of the basics, and can understand some Spanish if I’m reading it, but I sure as heck can’t roll my r’s or pronounce the tricky stuff. Even so, I have a good ear and could tell right away when I found the right actress/reader to carry the Spanish-intensive stories. When she and I both got stuck on some of the language, Dr. Alvarez of SUNY Oneonta’s Africana and Latino Studies Department was there to guide us. 

In our post-performance discussion, somebody asked me why I chose to direct The Panza Monologues. My reply was this:  I’m very picky when it comes to directing. I had been reading a bunch of scripts because I knew I wanted to direct a staged reading, but nothing was grabbing my attention. One of my peers had a copy of The Panza Monologues and let me borrow it. I wasn’t even halfway through when I knew I absolutely had to do it. I heard that little voice that said, “Direct me!” The script was funny. It was sad. It was so many things at once. I think that everybody has experienced something the play addresses, or at least knows somebody that has. 

In our discussion we also talked about how important The Panza Monologues is, regardless of one’s ethnicity. There is a certain universality that arises when we realize that we all have a panza. At the same time, the script does contain material that is specific to the Chicano/a experience. Two of my actresses/ readers expressed how good it felt to be part of a production that was relevant to them because of their family’s heritage. The feeling of empowerment was an overall theme that many people took away from the performance.

Our staged reading of The Panza Monologues was the best-attended reading that The Identity Play Reading Series has produced thus far, or at least since I’ve been involved. It meant the world to me that so many people were there to listen with their ears and with their hearts. 

What is your favorite quote from The Panza Monologues?
My favorite quote is definitely, "I decide not to tell them that the blood of the conqueror takes up more space than anything else inside my body..."  - "The International Panza" 

First and foremost, I think this line is hilarious. During rehearsals I would smile before the line was even delivered. But it's more meaningful than that. We all have information that we may choose to withhold from new people we meet. Choosing to tell them or choosing to not tell them certainly depends on the situation.

Do you want to stage a full production or reading of The Panza Monologues? 
Contact us at

December 4, 2014

Pedagogy of the Panza Featuring Trevor Boffone

Each and every time we learn of a teacher, activist, scholar, artist, professor, organizer, coordinator, or facilitator who is or has used The Panza Monologues as a teaching tool, we are extremely gratified and thankful. Our second edition of the play in publication was specifically conceived of and designed to help facilitate its use in classrooms of all kinds. We included numerous kinds of materials to accompany the script in order to inspire its use as a wide reaching teaching tool.

Our occasional blog series - "Pedagogy of the Panza" - celebrates and profiles teachers and their innovative instruction using The Panza Monologues, Second Edition. This series features posts that showcase important, determined, and ingenious teachers of all kinds who are taking our work to the next level of its manifestation. Are you using The Panza Monologues, Second Edition in your classroom? We’d love to hear your story – contact us!

Trevor Boffone is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston. He researches the intersections of gender, sexuality, and space in Chican@ and Latin@ Teatro and cultural production. His dissertation research is a study of theater and performance in East Los Angeles, focusing primarily on Josefina López’s role as a playwright, mentor, and community leader in Boyle Heights at CASA 0101 Theater. He has published and presented original research on Chicana Feminist Teatro, the body in performance, Queer Latinidad, as well as the theater of Adelina Anthony, Nilo Cruz, Virginia Grise, Josefina López, Cherríe Moraga, Monica Palacios, Carmen Peláez, and Estela Portillo-Trambley. He recently served as a Research Fellow at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections for his project Bridging Women in Mexican-American Theater from Villalongín to Tafolla (1848-2014).    

Name: Trevor Boffone

Hometown: New Orleans 
Currently living in Houston, Tejas 

Where do you teach? 
University of Houston in the Department of Hispanic Studies

In what class/type of class did you use The Panza Monologues in?
I used The Panza Monologues for a guest lecture in Andrew Joseph Pegoda’s Texas History class at Alvin Community College. I normally teach Spanish language courses so I jumped at the opportunity to teach Teatro.

Why did you choose to teach The Panza Monologues in your class?
Given that I was teaching students who had never come in contact with Chican@/Latin@ Teatro before, I wanted to give them a glimpse into the type of work being done today. I wanted them to recognize that this is a living and breathing movement, one that is still actively being shaped. I chose The Panza Monologues because I thought students would recognize the different themes that the play presents. Even one older man claimed that he had used pliers to pull up his zipper on more than one occasion! The monologues offered a nice balance between comedy, drama, activism, feminism, theory, etc. Therefore, I was able to introduce and tackle many key themes in a short period of time and hopefully motivate the students to seek out more information.   

How did you teach The Panza Monologues (any fun or meaningful activities or panza teaching tools you want to share)?
Since I was teaching in a history course, I helped students make connections between the play and how history is (re)constructed. In particular, I wanted students to consider how contemporary works like The Panza Monologues alter and (re)construct Tejan@ memory.

Trevor Boffone with Xicana playwright/
performer Adelina Anthony
I began the lesson by discussing San Antonio’s role as an important city for culture, history, and theater since the early 1900s (and before). I gave students a brief introduction to itinerant and resident companies that performed in San Antonio, focusing on the Carlos Villalongín Dramatic Company, which took permanent residence in San Antonio in 1910 due to the Mexican Revolution. San Antonio as a hotbed of Mexican/Mexican-American theatrical activity throughout the first half of the 20th century is important. By offering glimpse into the work done by mujeres such as ConcepcióHérnandez, Virginia FábregasJosefina Niggli, Lydia Mendoza, La ChataNoloesca (Beatriz Escalona), we briefly discussed what it meant for women to be the leading performers at this time. In this way, I demonstrated how Grise and Mayorga’s work fits within a continuum of Latina theater in Tejas that centers on women as principal performers occupying public space(s).

Once we arrived at The Panza Monologues, the focus shifted to the different historical markers in the text as well as how the panza is used to tell deeper stories about the Latin@ community in San Antonio. For instance, using “My Sister’s Panza” and “Las Noticias,” I guided students on a discussion about the intersections of race, class, age, gender, and obesity while also emphasizing the importance of food in culture.

Why is The Panza Monologues important to your field of study? What conversations did the book raise?
Even though I was teaching in a history course, the students were open-minded about how theatre can be used as a lens through which to view history. While not history per se, theater is a mirror that allows us to reflect on the past and remember or forget certain things. Just like film, literature, and/or music, theater  should be given more weight in how it constructs cultural and historical memory.

For example, “The International Panza” allowed us to consider how Tejan@ memory is created and maintained. The shouts of Chicana, Aztlán, Broken Treaties, Border Crossing, and the Mexican-American War, La Migra, and the Treaty of Guadalupe facilitated a dialogue about how and why these different things are still pertinent to Chican@ and Latin@ identity in Tejas. Many of the students were familiar with these terms/ideas, but weren’t sure exactly how they were connected or how these legacies still affect Chican@ and Latin@ identity and experience in contemporary Tejas.

Trevor Boffone with Chicana
playwright Josefina López
What did you learn about your teaching or about your students from teaching The Panza Monologues? 
I was nervous beforehand that students wouldn’t embrace theater as a tool to study history, but I was surprised at how open-minded they were. Some even commented that they didn’t quite see the point, but by the end of the class, they were asking for more plays and resources. Many students didn’t realize that Latin@ theater is alive and well in Tejas. I think that by choosing to teach such a contemporary piece, students left the class recognizing that Tejan@ culture is thriving and accessible to them if they choose to seek it out.  

Favorite Quote from The Panza Monologues Book?
“Don’t trust skinny people, and don’t eat at their houses.” – “Panza Girl Manifesto”