El Coqui Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom’ examines Latino identity

The comic book play looks at the societal expectations of Latino cultural identity through superhero fantasy and lots of comedy.

BY Moni­ka Fabi­an | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

‘El Coqui Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom’ examines the societal expectations of Latino cultural identity through superhero fantasy and lots of comedy.

El Coqui Espec­tac­u­lar and the Bot­tle of Doom’ exam­ines the soci­etal expec­ta­tions of Lati­no cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty through super­hero fan­ta­sy and lots of com­e­dy.

For Lati­nos, cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty can be a mine­field. They can gain or lose jobs for being deemed “too Lati­no” or not Lati­no enough.

The com­ic book play “El Coquí Espec­tac­u­lar and the Bot­tle of Doom” exam­ines these soci­etal expec­ta­tions and turns them on their head with some super­hero fan­ta­sy and lots of com­e­dy.

In “El Coquí,” a Nuy­or­i­can com­ic book artist strug­gles with claims that his work is “too Puer­to Rican,” while his broth­er, a mar­ket­ing exec, is fired for the oppo­site.

The pair grap­ples with these pres­sures from Lati­nos and non-Lati­nos alike by cre­at­ing a real-life super­hero that they plan to unveil at the Puer­to Rican Day Parade.

Coquí” play­wright Matthew Bar­bot says the script took about sev­en years to write and was his first work to address issues of eth­nic­i­ty and iden­ti­ty.

There’s a space between Gar­cia Lorca’s poet­ry and ‘Down These Mean Streets’ by Piri Thomas that I think a lot of Lati­nos in the U.S., espe­cial­ly now, are liv­ing in,” he says.

Like Coquí’s main char­ac­ters, Bar­bot tries to shake off notions of Lati­no-ness — includ­ing in the­ater.

I do some­times won­der when there’s a call for work from Lati­no play­wrights, if they’re look­ing for a spe­cif­ic kind of play about spe­cif­ic issues — about drugs and jail, immi­gra­tion, sad­ness; or alter­nate­ly, about the mag­i­cal abuela who has her native mag­ic.

We’re sec­ond or third gen­er­a­tion at this point,” the 27-year-old, Park Slope native con­tin­ues.

Our par­ents are often bet­ter off than theirs were. We’re no longer liv­ing in depressed areas — and even those who do, have more diverse sto­ries to tell.”

El Coqui” was a final­ist in last fall’s emerg­ing play­wrights com­pe­ti­tion at Reper­to­rio Español.

It opens as part of Brick Theater’s com­ic book fes­ti­val on June 5 — the week­end of this year’s Puer­to Rican Day Parade.

Author: Rhonda 2.0

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