A Laugh A Minute: “La Carpa Aztlan: I Don’t Speak English Only” Theater Review

La Carpa Su Teatro

By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media

If “laughter is the best medicine.” then Su Teatro’s current production of La Carpa Aztlan Presents I Don’t Speak English Only” is the perfect antidote for an ailing society. “I have never laughed so much in the theater in my life,” said a 70+ year old woman in the audience. “This is one of the best plays I have seen at Su Teatro,” said another.

In Mexico and in the U.S. Southwest, a carpa is a travelling show held under a big top. Originating in the nationalistic aftermath of the Mexican revolution, carpas toured agricultural communities and mining towns offering a menu of satire, slapstick humour, dramatic sketches and humorous monologues, as well as acrobatics, tightrope walking and other circus entertainments. It was the poor people’s entertainment. It was in the carpa that the Mexican comic character, Mario Moreno (Cantinflas), started life.
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In this production, it is the year 2020 and all diversity of any kind is prohibited. The “language police” are everywhere and will even take away your children if you are caught teaching them Spanish.

Elizabet, an architect student, played by Marialuisa Burgos, is out on a class excursion touring a blighted area of town that is scheduled for redevelopment. She soon becomes separated from her group lost in a haze of confusion only to find herself in a filthy alley from which she cannot find her way out of. She stumbles across a sleeping bum, Don Guillermo Aztlan, played by Hugo Jon Sayles. Don Guillermo does not seem to want to help her find her way out of the fog she finds herself in but is willing to enlighten her.

Elizabet is caught in a kind of Twilight Zone episode. She has forsaken her Latina cultural identity and language. She has become as generic a citizen as possible taking great care so as not to be confused with the “others”. She suddenly finds herself in the underground world of La Carpa searching for not only a way out but now for her own self-identity. What follows is a series of very funny skits that take on everything from immigration, discrimination, politics, religion, sexual orientation and just about anything else that has become a point of contention in the United States.

The play borrows inspiration from artistic talents like Mario Moreno (Cantinflas), Culture Clash, Bugs Bunny, Desi Arnez, Santana, Cesar Chavez, Abbott & Costello, Karl Marx, Harpo Marx, Barbara Streisand, The Virgen de Guadalupe and many more.

The acting of “Los Carperos” is spot on. The comedic timing of the cast is seamless leading to one laugh after another. Along with the two afore mentioned actors are Magally Luna as Carmen, Lliana Barron as Consuelo, Paola Miranda plays Violeta, Aaron Vieyra is Carlos and Adolfo Romero as Tino round out the cast of characters. The music is wonderful and at times sensuous.

Anthony Garcia who is also Su Teatro’s Executive Artistic Director states in the theater program that “Part of the story of La Carpa is the idea of creating art, in resistance to a society that seeks to silence our expression and our ability to teach our children cultural pride and history. “The message of La Carpa is that we all belong.”
“The resistance was never so funny” states a promotional flyer for the show and director/writer Anthony Garcia has proven he not only has a deep understanding and consciousness of society’s ills and injustices but also a very talented funny bone that can mock those ailments and make us all feel a bit better going forward.
“La Carpa Aztlan presents: I Don’t Speak English Only” performs as the Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center thru October 28th. 721 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204. For tickets and a good time visit www.suteatro.org or call 303-296-0219

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Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30pm

Matinee Sunday, October 22 at 2:00pm ONLY
The Saturday, October 28 show will be a SPECIAL FUNDRAISING EVENT FOR El Teatro VolARTE!


General admission/$20
Students & seniors (over 65)/$17
Comadre Docena (12 tickets or more)/$12 per ticket
Flex Pass/$144 (12 tickets at $12 each)

Hosted by AARP: La Carpa Aztlán Presents I Don’t Speak English Only is going to Pueblo!

Wednesday, October 25 at 6 PM
Sangre de Cristo Arts Center 210 N Santa Fe Ave, Pueblo, Colorado 81003

$2 for AARP members, Limit of 4 tickets per AARP member
$2 for students with student ID
$10 for the general public