'Latinologues': Laughs without borders

    In 1988, the San Diego Repertory Theater began a program called the “”Teatro Sin Fronteras Initiative.”” “”Teatro sin fronteras”” means “”theatre without borders”” in Spanish. In an effort to serve the entertainment needs of a state with nearly a 50-percent Latino population that is 20 minutes from the Mexican border, the San Diego Rep was determined to create a venue that could provide “”an annual laboratory for the examination of the rich complexity of Latino cultures in the United States and abroad.””

    Through the efforts of their talented but previously unknown Latino playwrights such as Luis Valdez, Culture Clash, Maria Irene Fornes and Alejandro Luna, the San Diego Repertory Theater has finally been given the chance to present their work to a receptive audience. The San Diego Rep has premiered such outstanding productions as “”Real Women Have Curves,”” “”The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico,”” “”Culture Clash in Bordertown”” and “”El Paso Blue.””

    The latest of the “”Teatro Sin Fronteras Initiative”” series is “”Latinologues: Comedy Without Borders,”” written by San Diego native Rick Najera. Touring the nation to sold-out audiences and receiving standing ovations, “”Latinologues”” comes from a series of about 50 dialogues Najera has written over the years, including some sketches from his original hit play, “”The Pain of the Macho.””

    When asked about the message of “”Latinologues,”” Najera said, “”No one monologue in the show can tell the story of the Latino experience — but together, they can really get to the heart of the matter.””

    Najera worked as an actor in Hollywood for years playing popular but mostly stereotypical roles in such shows as “”Hill Street Blues,”” “”China Beach,”” “”Falcon Crest,”” “”General Hospital”” and “”Columbo.”” Following a desire to expand his talents after spending some time in stand-up comedy, Najera took up writing and soon found work writing for such acclaimed shows as “”In Living Color,”” “”Off Limits”” and “”Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”” As a playwright, Najera seems to have truly found his niche writing plays that are simultaneously hilarious, moving and deeply insightful.

    “”Latinologues”” is unique in that it features on three dynamic actors playing an array of diverse characters. The stars of the show are Najera, Lina Acosta and Rene Levan.

    When asked how she began her career in acting, Acosta said, “”I came to L.A. thinking ‘if I can get an agent I’ll stay.’ I found an agent; that was six years ago.””

    With her appearance in HBO Film’s production of “”Real Women Have Curves,”” which recently received the Sundance Jury Prize, and her spectacular performance in “”Latinologues,”” it is clear that she made the right decision.

    One thing that’s very important to Najera as the director and creator of “”Latinologues”” is that the performances be topical and up-to-date, which is why the San Diego performance features a debut monologue of a janitor working at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.`

    “”History comes and then I write it,”” Najera said.

    He is not just writing history; he is creating it. “”Latinologues”” will be playing at the San Diego Rep until Nov. 25. It is an incredible show and should not be missed.

    Latinologues

    Plays by Luis Valdez, Alejandro Luna

    Runs until Nov. 25

    San Diego Repertory Theater

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