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Shakespeare in Latinx Communities, with José Cruz González and David Lozano

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 176

Theater artists José Cruz González and David Lozano join us in this episode. Their conversation “On Making Shakespeare Relevant to Latinx Communities” appears in the new book Shakespeare and Latinidad. González and Lozano talk with Barbara Bogaev about adapting and translating Shakespeare, performing and directing it in ways that make it relevant to Latinx audiences, and whether the Bard has a place at theater companies working to carve out a space for Latinx voices.

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FolgerShakespeareLibrary · Shakespeare in Latinx Communities, with José Cruz González and David Lozano

Jose Cruz Gonzales and David LozanoJosé Cruz González received the NEA Directing Fellowship in 1985 and the 2010 Kennedy Center National Teaching Artist Grant. His plays include American Mariachi, Sunsets & Margaritas, and The Astronaut Farmworker. He’s also a professor of Theatre Arts at Cal State Los Angeles.

David Lozano is Executive Artistic Director of Cara Mía Theatre in Dallas. In 2014, he was recognized by The Dallas Observer as one of six “Masterminds of Arts & Culture.” He co-wrote and directed Deferred Action and Crystal City 1969, which was named the “Best New Play of 2009” by The Dallas Morning News.

Their chapter, “On Making Shakespeare Relevant to Latinx Communities,” appears in Shakespeare and Latinidad, a collection of essays in the field of Latinx theatre, edited by Carla Della Gatta and Trevor Boffone. Shakespeare and Latinidad was published by Edinburgh University Press in June 2021.

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published October 12, 2021. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “I Understand Thee and Can Speak Thy Tongue,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano & Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Todd Cotham and Aaron Carpenter at fifty50studios in Dallas. Leonor Fernandez edits our transcripts.

Previous: Shakespeare and the British Royal Family  |  Next: Shakespeare’s Language and Race


Shakespeare Unlimited: How We Hear Shakespeare’s Plays, with Carla Della Gatta
What exactly do we hear when we hear one of Shakespeare’s plays? We ask the co-editor of Shakespeare and Latinidad

Shakespeare and Beyond: “In a Shakespearean Key” by Caridad Svich
In an excerpt from Shakespeare and Latinidad, playwright Caridad Svich reflects on her earliest experiences with Shakespeare’s plays.

Macbeth en Español

Read Shakespeare’s play in Spanish, in a translation by Alfredo Michel Modenessi.


MICHAEL WITMORE: Is Shakespeare for everyone? There are people who say absolutely yes. There are people who say absolutely no. And there are people in between, whose job it sometimes is to split the difference.

From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director. When Carla Della Gatta and Trevor Boffone began collecting essays for their new book Shakespeare and Latinidad, they struck on a novel approach. Rather than relying just on the kind of scholarly articles one might expect to see in a book of this sort, they also reached out to theater artists. The result is that, in addition to professors, you can also read what playwrights, directors, actors, and vocal coaches have to say about adapting and translating Shakespeare; performing and directing it in ways that make it relevant to Latinx audiences, and the challenges it presents to artists and spectators for whom the English language and English culture are secondary, at best.

We love interviewing theater artists about Shakespeare, so a couple of those essays really piqued our interest. The first is a conversation between David Lozano and José Cruz González. In the book, it’s called “On Making Shakespeare Relevant to Latinx Communities.”

David Lozano is the Artistic Director of Cara Mía Theatre in Dallas. He specializes in writing, directing, and producing bilingual plays for the Latinx community in north Texas. José Cruz González has been writing, directing, and performing plays for 50 years. His work includes multiple adaptations of Shakespeare designed to bring 400-year-old English plays alive for Spanish-speaking people in the United States.

They came into studios in Los Angeles and Dallas to talk about the challenges and the rewards of including Shakespeare in their work.

Just a note for clarification: during this conversation, you’re going to hear an unexplained reference to Zoot Suit. Zoot Suit was a play with music, written by Luis Valdez. The first Chicano play on Broadway, it opened in 1979.

We call this podcast “I Understand Thee and Can Speak Thy Tongue.” David Lozano and José Cruz González are interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.


BARBARA BOGAEV: José, I’m going to out you as the older of the two of you. I think I’m right about that.

JOSÉ CRUZ GONZÁLEZ: I like the word “elder.”

BOGAEV: The elder here.

GONZÁLEZ: I would agree with that.

BOGAEV: Yes, the elder here. But I’d like you to think back to the beginning of your theater career in the ’60s. Maybe it was the ’70s. When it came to Spanish-speaking people being depicted on a stage, just how rife with stereotypes was everything? In my memory, Spanish parts were almost always played for laughs when I was a kid. You know, the Mexican in a sombrero and things like that.

GONZÁLEZ: Right. Most of my introduction to stereotypes were the mainstream television or films as a child.

BOGAEV: Like what?

GONZÁLEZ: Oh, you name it, in terms of films, and any mainstream film, any mainstream television program where, you know, the outsider was made fun of. And for a little boy growing up going, “My skin is that person’s skin color, and they’re making fun of him.” You know, or, “He’s making fun of himself, and they’re enjoying it.” So it doesn’t give you a lot of confidence about your own culture, your own community, through those lenses.

It wouldn’t really be until many years later when I was in college that I was introduced to Chicano theater through the works of Teatro Campesino, the Farmworkers’ Theater, and Teatro de la Esperanza, the Theater of Hope. These were the two primary professional theater companies in California that were doing original work about our community. For a young person seeing people like myself on stage, speaking bilingually, with stories that I could relate to, and also the politics that they were dealing with, was very inspiring.

BOGAEV: Yeah. David, was that your experience too? What was it like when you started your career?

DAVID LOZANO: Well, I grew up in a household in which my parents did not speak Spanish to us even though they were fluent. They grew up in Dallas, Texas, in the Deep South, and my mother was punished for speaking Spanish in grade school. She was often asked to stand in the corner facing the wall. My father walked around the downtown streets where there would be signs that said, “No Mexicans or dogs allowed.”

When they created a family, they moved out of the barrio, out of the Mexican neighborhood, and they went to a predominantly white neighborhood where I grew up. And they did not speak Spanish to us. So, in effect, the thread of our cultural heritage was cut.

It wasn’t until I had decided to become a professional actor that I realized that I wasn’t being cast anywhere. I wasn’t being cast because I didn’t fit the profile of the characters in most of these plays that were written by white playwrights.

It wasn’t until I was cast in a production by the first professional Latinx theater company in Dallas, Teatro Dallas. And it was then when I began to realize where my family came from. So, my experience with engaging with theater of my culture was in the process of reclaiming my culture when I began acting.

BOGAEV: Wow. Going back to that description of your childhood, it’s not that long ago, but that’s intense. Was that the situation in Central California too at the time when you were growing up, José?

GONZÁLEZ: Right. Central California—you know, my parents were farmworkers. So, my brothers and I, we all grew up doing that work since that was our daycare. Yeah, there wasn’t a whole lot of representation in terms of our community and people who were police officers or any sort of important folks, you know. It was all working class, poor. But I have to say becoming a storyteller eventually, those people were the ones who moved me, and I saw them as heroic.

BOGAEV: Hmm. So what gave you the idea to embark on the career that you did?

GONZÁLEZ: Well, you know, I was a dreamer. I was like a dreamer in the sense of, you know, I was sort of always lost in the head and getting in trouble for it at school because I just daydreamed so much. My mother was a widow of four little boys, and she fostered that creativity.

I never imagined myself to be a theater artist. I didn’t know that there was a Dr. Jorge Huerta, who was the first Chicano PhD in theater in the United States, teaching at UC San Diego where I attended. I took a class of his and he converted me into theater. And that really would propel me into the future with other work that I would do.

BOGAEV: Well, honing in now on the Shakespeare part of this conversation. I know that there were historically Black colleges and universities that had theater departments that really pushed Shakespeare in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The idea was that Shakespeare was elevating for the masses. And there were also immigrants in the 19th century who were given Shakespeare for the same reason. So, is there a history of that among Mexican and Central American immigrants?

GONZÁLEZ: I remember schools would take us to San Francisco and we’d see Shakespeare plays. It was fascinating to me, first of all, to go someplace that, you know, was far away from home. But then to this elegant theater to see these actors. And I knew nothing, I understood—anything that they were saying. But there was something happening on that stage that was fascinating to me.

LOZANO: I think that’s a really good question for our immigrant community. I think the immigrant community that is coming from a place where they’ve seen a lot of theater, they may value Shakespeare to a certain degree. However, I don’t feel that it’s part of the vernacular of where they come from. Then, for myself as a Mexican American, Shakespeare often comes across as an obstacle because of its difficulty to understand and perform.

I think Shakespeare is often represented a writer and a legacy that my theater, Cara Mía Theatre, has resisted. We have emphasized playwrights, Mexican American, Chicano, Latinx playwrights, throughout our 25-year history. It’s often to edge out some space for ourselves, to give presence to this incredible material, and our own experiences, so we can see ourselves reflected on stage. Being able to process our own experiences by seeing theater that reflects our lives and our families and our communities’ lives.

So, for Shakespeare, it’s actually, how does Shakespeare begin to belong to us, as opposed to elevating us? Our dreams, our passions, our struggles, and our vices. And, of course, the intrigues of politics and the social world in which we live. How can Shakespeare fit in with us?

BOGAEV: David, I want to pick up on what you were talking about, kind of looking forward in this subject. Specifically on the topic of adaptation of Shakespeare, to adapt Shakespeare to this cultural moment and to Latinx culture. You’ve said that you’re a bit of a purist when it comes to Shakespeare, that you look at the play itself to see what it reveals. So, what do you mean by “a purist” when it comes to Shakespeare?

LOZANO: It’s funny that that comes back to me, you know, after it appears in the book. I’d say, for one, I’m not a master writer such as José Cruz González. I approach Shakespeare as an opportunity as a director. But as a creator that collaborates with actors, so we often create adaptations of classics when we work.

First of all, when I begin the process of determining what Cara Mía Theatre is going to produce and how we’re going to establish a dialogue with our community through plays, I think of what is vital in our experience, what in the plays is jumping off of the page, what is provoking something in me. So, when I read Shakespeare and I identify a play that’s appropriate for us and for our community, it’s because I’m experiencing something in the raw contents of the material, in the language.

BOGAEV: Do you mean a purist as far as the text? You seek the meaning in the text and then you go from there?

LOZANO: I think so, yeah. Well, I would say this. I like to explore the text. I explore the text to see what I can discover. And those discoveries are what lead us to the interpretation or even the adaptation that we may develop. I’m not trying to change or alter the story or even the language unless I feel that it’s necessary. For example, to translate into Spanish. I’m really trying to use the text as a map for discovering what a production can be as opposed to rearranging it with another vision.

BOGAEV: Another thing you said, though, is that initially you weren’t interested in doing any Shakespeare. But something pushed you over the edge to consider adapting Romeo and Juliet. So what was that? What was your inspiration?

LOZANO: Well, I was looking for plays, and I was reading play after play, and nothing was really resonating with me. And my mother-in-law from Mexico was visiting us for a while. I was noticing that she would always jump into song, and she would always start singing boleros in the house and singing them to my wife. These incredible songs.

BOAGEV: Oh, how wonderful.

LOZANO: It was beautiful. Incredible songs of love and heartbreak. And I remember she was singing to my wife from the banister. And it just made me think of fiery love, actually, is what it made me think of listening to these lyrics. So, I decided to pick up Romeo and Juliet. The material just jumped right off the page. I could just sense the heated tension of all of the characters in the public places. And then, of course, the sparks that are flying with Romeo and Juliet, and then Romeo and his buddies.

This felt like a story that could take place anywhere, and it could definitely take place in our community. We began by first, kind of, identifying a nice cutting of the original script, and then identifying how we could integrate our bilingual actors and our company into this. And then we started creating this bilingual version of Romeo y Julieta, in which we were seeing different subcultures that we would see in our Latinx communities here.

BOGAEV: Like what? Like hip-hop?

LOZANO: Absolutely. Hip-hop. Like, Romeo and his friends were definitely b-boys. Then we had the kind of southern Tejano quality through the Capulets. There was a cultural clash there which made the play really interesting in that way. But yet we never strayed from really trying to understand the script and get as close as we could to the actions in the play, and the difficult and tense relationships.

I think it uplifted the experience and clarified it for our audience. Because I had people come up to us during intermission and say, “You know, I’ve been reading this play in school for years, I’ve seen productions. But this is the first time I’ve ever understood it.” And these were coming from Chicanos and Mexicanos that have been coming to see our plays for years. It felt like we were creating something very meaningful in which they could see themselves.

BOGAEV: Excellent. José, what was the approach with the Romeo and Juliet adaptation that you were involved with?

GONZÁLEZ: Right. I was working with a playwright, Edit Villarreal, and she wanted to adapt Romeo and Juliet. But she didn’t want to use Shakespeare’s language, she wanted the storyline. She set it in Los Angeles, and Juliet was a middle-class Chicana from the West Side, and Romeo was an undocumented house painter. And this is all set on the Day of the Dead as a backdrop. So, the dead are preparing to receive Romeo and Juliet. It was a really exciting way to look at an adaptation, where you’re not using his language, but you’re inspired by it.

BOGAEV: How did the concept for the Day of the Dead setting backdrop come about?

GONZÁLEZ: I think, again, it was Edit’s idea. And in exploring it, we were able to go, “What is that? What is the Day of the Dead? Where are the dead coming from?” We were able to sort of tap into the Aztec culture of Mictlan and the land of the dead where they will be received.

BOGAEV: You’ve anticipated my next question, which is that I’m assuming when you both say Latinx that you have in mind people from Mexico and Central America. But do you make delineations when you’re thinking of Latinx theater, between the needs and desires of people from Mexico versus, say, Venezuela or Peru?

LOZANO: That’s a really good question.

GONZÁLEZ: It’s a great question. And I think, at least for me, I’m dealing with the Chicano viewpoint. When I view Shakespeare, I’m viewing it through that cultural lens.

LOZANO: It’s a really great question to think about, who we’re actually speaking to when we create plays. And like José, Cara Mía Theatre thinks of the community which we are living with here. Primarily Mexican American, Chicano, but also an immigrant community from Central America, as you said, but also South America. We really have to be specific in how we use Spanish or how we adapt characters.

I would say we center the Mexican and Chicano experiences in our work. Because as a Chicano, you know, our roots are in Mexico. And the majority of the Latinos here in Dallas are Mexican and Mexican American.

BOGAEV: Can you give me an example or examples of what kind of accommodations then you would make to make your production specific to your audience?

LOZANO: For example—I would be saying a bad word in Spanish if I said the first line of Romeo and Julieta.

BOGAEV: That’s okay, it’s a podcast.

LOZANO: Okay. We actually didn’t have any words that were used for the beginning of the production. The first line of Romeo and Julieta was, “Orale, pendejos,” which came from Benvolio when he interrupted the fight that breaks out at the beginning of the play.

BOGAEV: And that’s a very bad word?

LOZANO: Yeah. I wouldn’t call anyone a pendejo. I do not recommend that, especially if you’re angry.

BOGAEV: Give us an idea what the translation is.

GONZÁLEZ: It has many meanings. I can tell you that when I did Invierno, which is inspired by The Winter’s Tale, I wanted to look at the filter of history through that play. I think setting it in California during the 19th century when the Mexican American war was going on. California was transitioning from Spanish indigenous to American. I wanted to look at that fusion and clash of culture through that play.

I was able to look at all these different communities arriving, and again some already there, and what that meant with Invierno. And so it was a fascinating world because one of the things was, you know, English, Spanish, but it was also Chumash. We were using the Samala language, the community there is Chumash, the indigenous community. Bringing three different languages together.

BOGAEV: Wow. And so that’s one of the practically lost indigenous languages, isn’t it? That’s what’s so exciting to hear that on a stage?

GONZÁLEZ: Yes. In fact, the community that we worked with there was reclaiming that, studying that language that had been lost for about 100 years. It was the first time spoken on stage in that production.

BOGAEV: This is a more overarching question. But in the end, is there a key to making Shakespeare relevant for Latinx audiences? Is it language, or is it more about culture, or is it all of that? I don’t know who wants to take that. David?

LOZANO: I would say it’s hard to say that there’s a key. I think it’s up to the imagination of the creator and the producer of a play by Shakespeare. What is their vision? We can mold Shakespeare, if we wish, into what we need him to say.

In the Spanish-speaking countries, Shakespeare is often adapted to the political context of the country or the political history of that country, which makes productions very unique and different from each other. Also, the translations are often not literal, often not in the strict iambic pentameter. There’s a free reign. A translation can actually become more like an interpretation.

I look at producing theater as a dialogue with our community. If we’re going to produce Shakespeare, how is that going to contribute to this reciprocal dialogue that will come back and forth between performer and spectator?

BOGAEV: José, what’s your take on this?

GONZÁLEZ: Well, you know, Shakespeare is always going to be here. And for playwrights, it’s exciting to adapt because you have a story there that’s already out. You have to now figure out, how do you take that with your own lens, your own experience, and filter it?

I also want to say that, as time has gone on with the Latinx theater movement here in the United States, theaters have grown, artists have grown. And I remember Daniel Valdez, who was in the original production of Zoot Suit—his brother is Luis Valdez—told me once that they were auditioning at the Taper. And next door was another audition for Shakespeare. And this actor, Edward James Olmos, came from the Shakespeare audition to Zoot Suit audition. He was reading with Daniel. And Daniel said—afterwards he said, “When that guy started speaking, he said it was Chicano Shakespeare.”

Because Edward James Olmos had been working as an actor for 20 years, professional actor, right? And suddenly you have this man who has this gift as an actor, the voice, the cultural experience. And now reading it with this playwright’s words, “Suddenly it just gelled,” he said. And so, yeah, you know, let’s bring it, let’s do it. I just think that was a perfect example of the blending of our different worlds and times.

BOGAEV: It does beg the question, though, and it gets asked. Why mine Shakespeare for inspiration at all? Since there are so many people of color now who see Shakespeare as the apotheosis of whiteness and a symbol of the male patriarchy.

LOZANO: I’d like to answer that question, also to add onto what José was talking about. Our company is actually exploring The Merchant of Venice. And to continue the thread here, Lakin Valdez, the son of Luis Valdez, played Bassanio in this reading. What was interesting, in this predominantly Latinx cast is that The Merchant of Venice isn’t a play that our community of people of color, who are well-educated in the understanding of racial equity and racial justice—that’s not a play that is easily digestible for us. So, there was a lot of questions, a lot of wrestling with this play.

It was a challenge to just simply perform it without really breaking down the play and understanding its impact on us today. What’s interesting is that it seems that we do need to have an argument and let our interpretation be very clear when we’re doing a play like Merchant of Venice. Because people will call it anti-Semitic.


LOZANO: People will call the text outdated, irrelevant, or harmful. So, we have to really grapple with this material in a really complex way. And as people of color, we also recognize that we are the carriers of these words in this story. It’s not an easy task.

I think some people in our community may say Shakespeare just is not relevant to us. In fact, it’s like you said, it’s the opposite of what we want to convey. However, I’m curious if in a Merchant of Venice, we’re going to find something more vital to our experience that we may not be able to find in any other play.

BOGAEV: José, your thoughts on whether it’s relevant or not?

GONZÁLEZ: Well, I think it’s still relevant. I wrote a play for young audiences called Forever Poppy, that looks at if Shakespeare and the “Dark Lady”—I think that’s… I can’t remember her name now—you know, what if they had hooked up and they actually had a kid. And that kid and the lineage survived, and was a child of color.

But I also have to say, I’m still interested. I’ve got 20 pages of a play called Shakespeare and Cervantes. Cervantes was 17 years older than Shakespeare. And he was not a successful playwright, but he was a playwright. I always wondered, what is those two guys met at some point, some place. What would that conversation be like?

BOGAEV: Oh, I love it. I can’t wait to see that. And I am curious, what other Latinx Shakespeare productions like yours, and Meme García who we had on recently—

GONZÁLEZ: house of sueños, right?

BOGAEV: Yes, house of sueños. What should people be on the lookout for?

LOZANO: I think it’s a time in which we’re going to see new interpretations, new visions of Shakespeare. You know, in Dallas, our Latinx theaters have not produced Shakespeare. I think that it’s, how do we find what’s vital?

I think a lot about the first production that Cara Mía Theatre worked on, which was The Tempest, La Tempestad, which we also called Espejos, Mirrors, which was a collaboration with Laboratorio de la Máscara, the Mask Laboratory from Mexico City. A play which utilized masks and really drew on the roots of the play, which was Commedia dell’Arte. That was an extraordinary experience because that brought the play to life through physical actions and imagery.

I think that that’s where my interest with Shakespeare lies. How do we create the imagery and the context in which to view these 500-year-old plays? Because that’s going to provide a new lens for looking at this work. We’re still looking at Shakespeare, and we’re looking to see how we can shed a light on our condition as Latinx folks here in the South.

BOGAEV: Well, just one more question about the relevance issue. I’m curious if any of your colleagues, people in theater, have come to you and said, “Why do you do Shakespeare?”

GONZÁLEZ: Because I love it. I love him.

BOGAEV: But have you faced that kind of critique?

GONZÁLEZ: No, no. You know, we have to look at where teatro is at, the Latinx theater. You know, still relatively young. So, I think there’s a lot of exploration, a lot of searching to tell our story, to reinterpret our story, to find inspiration in other stories. If you look at the work of Luis Alfaro, who has been adapting Greek works, his Mojada, Oedipus El Rey, Electricidad.

BOGAEV: Electrifying works. I’ve seen.

GONZÁLEZ: Yes. If you look at it in that sense, we’re still growing, we’re still exploring, and I can’t wait to see what the future is going to bring.

LOZANO: It’s an interesting question too about if people are encouraging us to abandon Shakespeare. It seems that whenever we embark on working on a play by Shakespeare that members of the community or within our circle of artists begin to challenge the decision.

BOGAEV: So this has come up?

LOZANO: Oh, absolutely. So, we’ve produced two plays by Shakespeare. And as I said, we’re also exploring a Merchant of Venice. For example, when we produced Romeo y Julieta, the co-founder of Cara Mía Theatre wanted to know why we were producing Shakespeare. He reminded me, you know—which we’ve had countless conversations over the years—that he founded Cara Mía Theatre to bring Latino and Chicano literature to our communities and make it a permanent fixture on our stages. And a board member at that time sent me an email, said that, “I will not be attending this production.”

BOGAEV: Wow, serious pushback? Wow.

LOZANO: Really serious pushback. For Cara Mía Theatre here in Dallas, where we call Dallas for our Latino arts and culture here a fertile desert. There’s a lot of talent, there’s a lot of passion. But to survive as a Chicano Latinx theater company is such a struggle that what’s carried us has been our strong ties with community. Authentic and fearless representation of our historical experiences. Because many of the plays that we’ve produced, uplift stories and historical stories, that just do not exist in history books, but are monumental historical moments.

So, when we propose a play like Shakespeare, there is this concept that it’s a false glorification of a dead English playwright that has nothing, as if we’re trying to fit in. Since our work is so much about resistance—I would say resistance against assimilation. And Shakespeare kind of epitomizes the ultimate assimilation.

BOGAEV: So how did you win that argument? How did you prevail?

LOZANO: Well, I just shared my approach with it, that, you know, we weren’t going to try to. That we were going to create a production that spoke to our community, that reflected our experiences, that reflected our language. There was still suspicion about it. But I think when they understood my intention, you know, behind it.

They could see that it’s much like the work that we’re doing with the other plays. Because we are revealing qualities of our experience that can even be framed within our culturally specific context as Latinos. We can experience Shakespeare in a culturally-specific context, which is why I think his work is worthy. In the case of The Merchant of Venice, the questions of racism, and oppression, and the manipulation of the law. And Shylock is in a non-citizen in Venice. So, the layers of this play are so explosive that it feels dangerous.

Also, in the context of which it was written can also seem so foreign. Whereas when we produce plays by our Latinx and Chicano writers that may be controversial, they are contextualized within our own cultures and our own experiences. And so there’s an entry point for those. But Shakespeare is foreign to us.

BOGAEV: Well, we could end on that, that Shakespeare is foreign to the Latinx community. But should we?

LOZANO: Well, I wonder if this perception that Shakespeare is foreign to us is an opportunity for us to extend ourselves towards his work. I think that’s part of the journey that we are at, at Cara Mía Theatre, is that we want to observe the differences between all people. How can we come together through our differences? How can we engage and observe the difficulties, the similarities, the problems? And is there a way for us to work through it?

The vision of our company is to unify all people through Latinx theater. And it seems like the difficulties that are brought into our presence through Shakespeare are opportunities for us to make connections with people different from us and find the shared humanity.

BOGAEV: Yeah, it really turns that on its head. And what I hear you saying in that it’s an opportunity, you’re exploring foreignness, which is also so relevant.

LOZANO: Absolutely, absolutely.

BOGAEV: I want to thank you both for talking with me. It’s been really interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of all of your endeavors. And I appreciate it. David, José, thank you.

GONZÁLEZ: Thank you.

LOZANO: Thank you.


WITMORE: José Cruz González received the NEA Directing Fellowship in 1985 and the 2010 Kennedy Center National Teaching Artist Grant. His plays include American Mariachi, Sunsets & Margaritas, and The Astronaut Farmworker. He’s also a professor of Theatre Arts at Cal State Los Angeles.

David Lozano is Executive Artistic Director of Cara Mía Theatre in Dallas. In 2014, he was recognized by The Dallas Observer as one of six “Masterminds of Arts & Culture.” He co-wrote and directed Deferred Action and Crystal City 1969, which was named the “Best New Play of 2009” by The Dallas Morning News.

Their chapter on “On Making Shakespeare Relevant to Latinx Communities” appears in Shakespeare and Latinidad, a collection of essays in the field of Latinx theatre, edited by Carla Della Gatta and Trevor Boffone. Shakespeare and Latinidad was published by Edinburgh University Press in June 2021. David and José were interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

Our podcast, “I Understand Thee and Can Speak Thy Tongue,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer, with help from Leonor Fernandez. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano & Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Todd Cotham and Aaron Carpenter at fifty50studios in Dallas.

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare Unlimited, please leave us a positive review on Apple Podcasts.

Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, Thanks for listening. For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.