NEW BRITAIN – Central Connecticut State University announced a new performance of “Hecho en Puelto Rico (the L is intentional),” a free one-man comedy show written and performed by Ángel Vázquez, on Sunday, April 2.
“Hecho en Puelto Rico'' tells the story of a young man who prepares to graduate college and leave Puerto Rico to escape the economic crisis. In the process, he unearths his cultural roots and works through some of the struggles inherent in the experience of migration.
“From far away, everything is so beautiful, but when you’re here live, in person, and in full, living color, everything is harder,” Vázquez said in Spanish.
He added he has performed the show 151 times at a number of different venues. Past performances include the Esperanza Arts Center and the Lincoln Center in New York. He explained that although his show is a one-man comedy, it’s different from stand-up because he embodies a character that goes through a narrative arc.
Vázquez said the inspiration behind the show came from when he used to work as the cultural director for a Puerto Rican university. He realized many of the students he interacted with on a daily basis didn’t know their own history.
“This doesn’t happen by accident or mistake or anything like that,” he said. “This happens because our own history was censored from the time of Spain because the Spanish regime didn’t want Criollos to feel proud of their own people, but that they would pay homage to Spain.”
He added that the “systematic censure” of Puerto Rican history continued after Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory. For example, he explained that the Puerto Rican flag was prohibited from 1948 to 1957 because of a gag law designed to curb ideas of Puerto Rican independence. Under these circumstances, he said it was difficult for many to find a sense of belonging in their own history.
“Puerto Ricans are adrift in their knowledge and they look for heroes in other countries,” he said.
To share some of his knowledge, Vázquez wanted to teach history in a way that would be engaging to students by mixing comedy with drama and history. In addition, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY’s Hunter College announced Vázquez’ artistic residency in early 2022, giving him access to the university’s vast archives on the role of Puerto Ricans in the United States.
“We were all students at one point. We know that there are teachers that maybe don’t have the best style to spur on their students,” he said. “As an actor, playwright, director and composer, why not use a livelier teaching tool?”
Mildred Guzman-Young from The Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Center at CCSU echoed Vázquez’ sentiment. She said the center sponsors events that seek to educate the university and broader community about Latin America, the Caribbean and Latinos in the United States.
“We are also developing programming that connects the Latino community to CCSU. The play is not only entertaining, but also educational as it brings knowledge of historical figures from Puerto Rico,” she said.
A performance “Hecho en Puelto Rico (the L is intentional)” is scheduled for Sunday, April 2, 2023, at 4 pm. at the Torp Theatre, CCSU’s Davidson Hall at 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain. The event is free and open to the public but registration is requested at https://forms.gle/AoPeCmxejXahvhe67
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.