Teatro Milagro visits UCC
Traveling acting troupe performs at Whipple Fine Arts

“American Sueño,” one of the latest plays by Teatro Milagro, a Portland community theater group, was performed in Whipple Fine Arts on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Umpqua Community College Spanish instructor Silvia Herman organized the event.

“I knew of them from when I worked in Portland at Mount Hood Community College. First, I wanted our students to be exposed to Spanish, more than just in the classroom environment. In Roseburg there are not a lot of opportunities to be exposed to Spanish and interact with a lot of Spanish speakers. I had a student who came to me after the play and said, ‘This is great, it’s something different than what we do everyday in class,’” said Herman.

Teatro Milagro is part of a nonprofit corporation known as the Miracle Group that has been in existence since 1985.

“Teatro Milagro has a long history in Portland, and you shouldn’t be a foreign language teacher without knowing who they are. I’ve been reading about them for years, they do amazing pieces, [and] this might be one of their most controversial. They’ve done some great work on different issues; they really are speaking to the different issues that the Hispanic culture [and] community have to grapple with,” said Ni Aodagain, a fellow foreign language instructor at UCC.

Before the production, a workshop was held for students at 9:00 a.m. at the Indian Room in the Campus Center. During the workshop, students met with the actors who briefly introduced the content of the play and had open discussions about the issues depicted in the performance.

In “American Sueño,” the two main characters, Agustin Obrero de la Torre and his sister Monica Obrero de la Torre are Hispanics living in America. Although they are brother and sister, these characters are from entirely different worlds.

These schisms come to the surface when their father is hospitalized. The family has no insurance and no means for paying for the medical procedures in America. Agustin and Monica have the power to take their father to Mexico to have the procedure done for a lower price, but Agustin will not be able to return to the United States because he is not an American citizen.

“American Sueño” confronts the modern issues and controversies of American life from the current immigration policy, to assimilation to American culture, to gay-lesbian-bisexual rights. “We thought it would be a good experience for a community that doesn’t often get diverse cultural material. They did their work, they made people talk, and that was the point. And it’s not whether you’re for something or against something, but let’s have a discussion. I think that was our goal,” said Ni Aodagain.

ASUCC President Melissa Osborne added, “There were a lot of issues that they covered. Some of them were more subtle than others. One of the things that I was really pleased to see, especially being somebody that has lived in Los Angeles, was that they covered the assimilation to Western culture -- the difference between the sister and the brother. She was more assimilated to the Western culture, and it had changed her ideologies and her values, where he was still more towards the traditional.”

The production was sponsored by the ASUCC General Fund as a response to the student survey results showing an interest in funding more workshops and cultural presentations. ASUCC sponsored this event with Student Life, which used funds from the Oregon Diversity Institute fund.

“Initially ASUCC was going to fund the whole thing, but then Marjan [Coester] offered some of the money from there because that money is earmarked for cultural diversity. As far as the money, where it came from though, it actually just came from ASUCC’s General Fund because we don’t have access to the funds yet that were part of the student interests survey,” said Osborne.

“American Sueño” is one of many cultural presentations that ASUCC has arranged. In the coming term, guest speakers from UCC instructor Dr. Emery Smith’s Anthropology 223 class will be giving speeches to the community. “He has four major speakers lined up, and he’s working on two more for the community presentation, and then he’ll have four that are in-class only, but those are smaller presentations. But those are going to be available to the campus community and to the public as well, just like American Sueño was, for free. And we’re financially sponsoring that in conjunction with Student Life and the ODI fund for that again as well,” said Osborne.

“One thing that’s really important is that ASUCC as an organization does not have its own personal interest in regards to different [issues]; we don’t ‘support’ or ‘not support’ any opinions in regards to issues. Our main aim in regards to the cultural component is just bringing exposure of different cultures to campus. And we’re open to pretty much any group, faculty member, group of students or whatever that would like to bring something to the campus; they just have to go through the process which is getting a proposal and having a concrete reason for it. As long as it’s not oppressive in nature to any group whatsoever, then it’s something that we would consider,” said Osborne.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.