Playwright Conchi León intended to bring her play to Chicago, along with its cast from Mexico but they were denied visas. Now, the show is canceled.
León’s show “La Tía Mariela” would have made its debut in the U.S. at Chicago’s third International Latino Theater Festival, which is taking place now through Oct. 27. The website states that the “U.S. Department of Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS), under the current administration, has officially denied granting touring visas for the cast and crew of La Tía Mariela.” But why would they deny a group of actors and creatives visas to enter the country?
According to the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, “They were determined to not be ‘culturally unique.'” Who is the USCIS to determine what is culturally unique and what isn’t? Are they theater critics? We don’t think so.
We are sad to announce that we have had to cancel the performance of La Tia Mariela due to circumstances beyond our control. We appreciate your continued support for Latino theater, and we apologize for this inconvenience.https://t.co/J3nD2DBGCx pic.twitter.com/kdDLFX951x
— Mexican Art Museum (@ExploreNMMA) September 24, 2019
In a tweet by Chicago’s Mexican Art Museum, they wrote, “We are sad to announce that we have had to cancel the performance of La Tia Mariela due to circumstances beyond our control.” They also tweeted that the Chicago Latino Theatre Alliance would be issuing refunds to whoever bought a ticket for the play.
“I think the argument is absurd and out of place because my work of 20 years is precisely known for its cultural footprint,” León said to NBC News. According to the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, two of León’s plays — “Mestiza Power” and “Del manantial al corazón” — will soon be feature films.
Después de que el gobierno de #EEUU le negó la visa a Conchi León (@laleonaconchi) y a su elenco, cancelan presentaciones de 'La tía Mariela' en #Chicago: https://t.co/k0wvXXO88z
— La Jornada Maya (@LaJornadaMaya) September 29, 2019
“We use humor as a framework [to] discuss these topics,” León said to NBC News. “As a ‘yucateca’ myself, I made sure to include a well-curated selection of ‘yucateco’ songs, including some from world-renowned singer and composer Armando Manzanero. We include Mayan words and go deep into the cultural roots of Yucatán, which are deeply Mayan and mestizo.”
According to the network, the play is about “three women from Yucatán who come together in the wake of their aunt’s death to remember her legacy. Along the way, the women end up honoring the legacy of all their ‘tías’ while talking about timely topics such as discrimination, violence, abuse, human trafficking and LGBTQ issues affecting women in Yucatán.”
Watch a snippet below:
People on social media expressed their outrage over the treatment of León and her cast and crew.
Mathew Weathers said on Facebook, “I can’t apologize enough for my shit country right now. Ashamed.” Alex Beech agreed by saying, “Conchi is an astonishing talent. This is a travesty for our country. Pure nonsense. Diana Perez said this call by immigration services is “Terrible. This administration is ridiculous.”
We couldn’t agree more.