Watsonville (play)

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Watsonville: Some Place Not Here is a three-act 1996 play by Cherríe Moraga. It depicts a cannery strike in Watsonville, California. Watsonville and the 1995 play Circle in the Dirt were published together in a single book by the West End Press. It is the sequel to the 1994 play Heroes and Saints . [1] The play was a project of Stanford University. [2]

Cherríe Moraga American writer

Cherríe Moraga is a Chicana writer, feminist activist, poet, essayist, and playwright. She is part of the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Department of English. Moraga is also a founding member of the social justice activist group La Red Xicana Indígena which is an organization of Xicanas fighting for education, culture rights, and Indigenous Rights.

Watsonville, California City in California in California

Watsonville is a city in Santa Cruz County, California, United States. The population was 51,199 according to the 2010 census. Located on the central coast of California, the economy centers predominantly around the farming industry. It is known for growing strawberries, apples, lettuce and a host of other vegetables. Watsonville is home to people of varied ethnic backgrounds. There is a large Hispanic population, as well as groups of Croatians, Filipinos, Portuguese, Sikhs, and Japanese that live and work in the city.

Circle in the Dirt: El Pueblo de East Palo Alto is a 1995 play by Cherríe Moraga. It is set in East Palo Alto, California, a community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Circle in the Dirt and the 1996 play Watsonville were published together in a single book by the West End Press.


Pareles wrote that Watsonville criticizes anti-immigration policies in California and Mexican-Americans perceived to have sold out to Anglo culture, or vendidos, who believe such policies should be compromised with. [1] Ruben Mendoza of Confluencia: Revista Hispanica de Cultura y Literatura wrote that the play uses a communal third place (also known as a third space) to criticize "capitalist spatial practice". [3] In addition the play also discusses the labor movement's gender and immigrant rights situation. [1]

Third place

In community building, the third place is the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. Examples of third places would be environments such as churches, cafes, clubs, public libraries, or parks. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

Moraga stated that the play is based "loosely on three actual events that took place in a central California coastal farm worker town by the same name." [4] These events were a 1985–1987 cannery strike, a 1989 7.1 Richter scale earthquake, and a vision of the Lady of Guadalupe in the Pinto Lake county park. [2] Lisa B. Thompson of the Theatre Journal wrote that there is "drama with vibrant dialogue and compelling, diverse characters" because Moraga did not use the words of those she interviewed for research purposes verbatim and instead "the voices Moraga listened to while researching the plays merge with her own." [4]

The so-called Richter magnitude scale – more accurately, Richter's magnitude scale, or just Richter magnitude – for measuring the strength ("size") of earthquakes refers to the original "magnitude scale" developed by Charles F. Richter and presented in his landmark 1935 paper, and later revised and renamed the Local magnitude scale, denoted as "ML" or "ML". Because of various shortcomings of the ML scale most seismological authorities now use other scales, such as the moment magnitude scale (Mw ), to report earthquake magnitudes, but much of the news media still refers to these as "Richter" magnitudes. All magnitude scales retain the logarithmic character of the original, and are scaled to have roughly comparable numeric values.

<i>Theatre Journal</i> journal

The Theatre Journal is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering the theatre arts, with articles from the October and December issues centering on a predetermined theme. It is an official publication of The Association for Theatre in Higher Education and is published on their behalf by the Johns Hopkins University Press.

Watsonville has select phrases and sentences in the dialog in the Spanish language instead of English. [4] The play, along with Circle in the Dirt, uses dialog that is a mixture of English and Spanish to paraphrase the content of the interviews conducted by Moraga; most of the actual interviews were done entirely in Spanish. [5] The music in the play includes bolero, cumbia, and rap. Some of the music includes original compositions. [4]

Bolero refers to two distinct genres of slow-tempo Latin music and their associated dances. The oldest type of bolero originated in Spain during the late 18th century as a form of ballroom music, which influenced art music composers around the world, most famously Maurice Ravel's Boléro, as well as a flamenco style known as boleras. An unrelated genre of sung music originated in eastern Cuba in the late 19th century as part of the trova tradition. This genre gained widespread popularity around Latin America throughout the 20th century and continues to thrive.

Cumbia music genre and dance from Colombia

Cumbia[ˈkumbja] is a folkloric rhythm and dance from Colombia. By the 1940s cumbia began spreading from the coast to other parts of Colombia alongside other costeña form of music, like porro and vallenato. Clarinetist Lucho Bermúdez helped bring cumbia into the country's interior. The early spread of cumbia internationally was helped by the number of record companies on the coast. Originally working-class populist music, cumbia was frowned upon by the elites, but as it spread, the class association subsided and cumbia became popular in every sector of society.. The researcher Guillermo Abadía Morales in his "Compendium of Colombian folklore", Volume 3, # 7, published in 1962, states that "this explains the origin in the zambo conjugation of musical air by the fusion of the melancholy indigenous gaita flute or caña de millo, i.e., Tolo or Kuisí, of Kuna or Kogi ethnic groups, respectively, and the cheerful and impetuous resonance from the African drums. The ethnographic council has been symbolized in the different dancing roles that correspond to each sex." The presence of these cultural elements can be appreciated thus:


In the play, set in the mid-1990s, workers in a Watsonville, California cannery strike. [4] The workers at the Pajaro Valley Cannery strike partly because they want additional rights, [6] and also because they want to be paid better wages. [1] As strategies the workers use a type of protest theater used by El Teatro Campesino and they also use hunger strikes in the manner done by César Chávez. [4] At the same time, the area Latino community faces divisions as anti-immigration legislation is being proposed in California. [1] During the play the politicians deliberate on Bill 1519, which is intended to separate the workers into legal residents and illegal immigrants as a way to divide them, referring to real-life border control legislation. [6] Marissa Pareles of the Lambda Book Report wrote that "the end of the play "has only a bit of a Deus ex Machina feeling about it". [1]

Border control control of people and objects at borders

Border controls are measures taken by a country or a bloc of countries to monitor its borders in order to regulate the movement of people, animals and goods.

Lisa B. Thompson wrote that realism is the predominant atmosphere of the work, but that the work highlights the importance of the spiritual aspect of protesting by giving some characters relationships with spirits of the deceased and also having the Virgin of Guadalupe appear on a tree trunk. [4] An earthquake with the magnitude 7.5 occurs during the story. [3]


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pareles, p. 43.
  2. 1 2 Pignataro, p. 28-29. "La obra Watsonville: Some Place Not Here (1996) fue parte de una proyecto de Stanford University por el cual Moraga entra a East Palo Alto — una comunidad cerca de la universidad— y de ello resulta una creatividad colectiva por su comunicacion con el pueblo para investigar los sentimientos de la gente en cuanto a los acontecimientos sociales, geograficos y religiosos en la region de California —los "cannery strikes" (Watsonville/Circle in the Dirt 4) del 1985–1987; el terremoto de grado 7.1 de 1989 en California, y la apariencia de la Virgen de Guadalupe en un roble en el parque del condado Pinto Lake en 1992 (Watsonville/Circle in the Dirt 4). Por lo tanto, tal obra teatral era un proyecto iniciado por un programa universitario y ligado a la comunidad."
  3. 1 2 Mendoza, p. 132.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Thompson, p. 524.
  5. Pareles, p. 144.
  6. 1 2 3 Mendoza, p. 134.
  7. 1 2 Mendoza, p. 137.
  8. 1 2 Mendoza, p. 135.