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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    New play displays the effects of House Bill 2281 on Tucson’s schools

    Borderlands Theater

    The Mexican-American community deeply interweaves into Tucson’s history with connections that can be found almost anywhere. Even buildings on campus have names like Cesar E. Chavez and Colonia de la Paz Residence Hall. It is part of Tucson’s culture, making it part of every Tucsonan.

    Yet in Tucson’s recent history, there has been a social battle between our politicians and Tucson Unified School District about whether ethnic studies should be taught in school. These programs provided an understanding of the cultures found in Tucson and problem-solving skills geared toward dealing with social injustices.

    In 2010, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer approved House Bill 2281, which eliminated all classes designed for any ethnic group of students.

    Community members, teachers and students all gathered to protest peacefully. This resulted in student arrests and an enraged community. Shortly after these events, the documentary “Precious Knowledge” was produced by Ari Palos. It captured the struggles and sacrifices the community made to try to support cultural understanding in our school systems.

    Although this all started five years ago, the battle is definitely not over. Milta Ortiz, a playwright from California, has come to Tucson to capture this event in her docu-drama, “Más.”

    Ortiz said she “kept tabs on what was happening” and traveled from California to take part in the protests. She said she was so moved by Tucson’s story that she felt she had to be a part of what was happening.

    “As an artist, the only way I know how to do that is to write about it,” Ortiz said. “We are trying to provoke a dialog through art.”

    “Más” is a theatrical spin off the events of 2010. It is an entertaining display of a “particularly sad moment in our history,’” wrote Etta Kralovec, an associate professor of teacher education at UA South, in an email. “It will engender an understanding that education can be a force for empowerment in young people.”

    Kralovec will be taking some of her students to see “Más.”

    “As educators we all need to have hope about the future of schooling in Arizona,” she wrote. “I am hoping this play will demonstrate that to them.”

    Although this beacon of hope is important for teachers, it is also important for students as well—especially here in Tucson.

    “Whenever politics drive curricular decisions to this extent, the students lose,” she said.

    Ortiz said viewers “will be entering a redemptive remembrance” or a “ritual” when going to see the play. Interwoven with four different dances, “Más” will take the viewer through the journey that Tucson community endures to fight for students’ rights to cultural knowledge and truth.

    “Más” will show at the Temple of Music and Art Cabaret Theater Sept. 10-27. For more information about times and tickets, visit the show’s page on the Borderlands Theater website

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