Silvia Gonzalez S.'s Celebrated Cultural Contributions
These newspaper clippings depict a different story of how space was made for more diverse cultures to be represented across Texas almost seventy years following the success of the Jack Sidney Family Production Company. Silvia Gonzalez S. is a playwright with roots from Arizona, Chicago, and California, who wrote a play entitled, “Boxcar,” with deals with themes of Hispanic immigrants traveling across the Texas/Mexico border. Inspiration struck for her to become a playwright as she, then a kindergarten teacher, was watching CNN in 1987. She witnessed an interview with an anglo border control officer crying after finding 19 men in a boxcar with scratches on the inside. All but one man passed from the excruciating heat, and she wanted to do something about it. She started writing a play about their experience and she said, “as [she] was writing, [she] kept hearing what the people in the boxcar were saying to her,” and she wanted to honor their story. This play jumpstarted her career, as she is passionate to provide opportunities on the stage for women, people of color, and senior citizens.
The April 1994 newspaper clipping from the Kalamazoo Gazette describes how Silvia S. Gonzalez interacted with and capitalized on her feminine Hispanic heritage in writing plays and musicals that deal with these themes, specifically focusing on "La Llorona Llora." Gonzales is a celebrated playwright, and the Whole Art Theater Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan feature her play for Hispanic Heritage months. Gonzales has been awarded many Hispanic playwright awards as well as awards for female playwrights.
In this particular piece, Gonzalez focuses on how “The myth [of Llorona Llora] at first seemed to Gonzalez S. like nothing more than a fear tactic in rearing children. It was not until later in her life that she began to question its meaning. She then realized that what on the surface seemed just an old tale was really a symbol of the collective agony and sorrow endured by so many indigenous people of Mexico, abused and exploited by the Spaniards.” She claims that La Llorona Llora is a central myth in modern Mexican culture. This is an example of how she employed themes of folklore throughout her writings that played an integral part in her childhood as a method of representing her heritage on stage.
In the "Today's Chicago Woman" interview, Gonzalez is being interviewed following the success of her “world premiere” of “The Empty Boxcar” at the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in Chicago, Illinois. She was not able to be there for every rehearsal, and the director changed over half of the play. In Silvia’s letters to colleagues and friends, she describes her disappointment in the changes that were made without her approval. However, she wrote personal notes to the actors and production team to thank them for their hard work. Despite hardships in the production of “The Empty Boxcar,” now entitled, “Boxcar,” Silvia still made wonderful connections in writing workshops and remained kind and respectful. This also goes to show how writing and producing work from one's own perspective can be invaluable to the production as a whole while providing spaces for marginalized groups to be represented on stage.
Gonzales embraces and encourages other women and young girls to pursue their dreams as she describes her goals for 1992: “I’m planning on teaching playwriting to students from a Chicago inner-city school - most likely their first experience in theater to show them they can do anything! Also, I plan to continue alternatively writing plays emphasizing women’s issues, and writing plays utilizing people of color, either in themes of non-traditional casting.”