It will be like an accomplished child returning home. When the Chicano theater company El Teatro de la Esperanza visits UC Santa Barbara Tuesday, the group will be returning to the site of its origin 19 years ago.
A lot of time has passed since its college days and the group has relocated to San Francisco, but the premise behind it has always remained the same--to develop plays based on Latino culture and traditions.
For its return trip to the campus, where it hasn't performed in five years, the company will present the sentimental comedy "Real Women Have Curves," written by a young Los Angeles writer named Josefina Lopez.
"The play deals with five women with--let's see, how do I put it--real curves, working in the garment industry," said artistic director Rodrigo Duarte Clark, who has been with the group from the beginning.
"They're dealing with a number of issues, and the issue of their own bodies is the central theme. They're all large, and here they are, making these dresses that will be sold on Madison Avenue to these thin, traditionally classic beauties. They all have these visions that they would someday like to be wearing these dresses."
The play, set in East Los Angeles, follows these women through various personal crises.
There's the woman who wants to be a writer, but because her sister owns the factory she has to work there too.
And there is the woman who, though thinner than the others, is anorexic.
"They are all united by the issue of their whole bodies and their self-perception and how they come to terms with it," Clark said. "There's a classic moment when they accept each other as large women. In that moment they are ashamed of their bodies, but come to terms with the relaxation and comfort of knowing each other and accept the way they are."
The play is part English and part Spanish. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are selling very quickly, so call 893-3535.
El Teatro de la Esperanza will also be at La Casa de la Raza Monday as part of a "Chicano Culture Night." The program will begin at 6 p.m. La Casa de la Raza is located at 601 E. Montecito St. Call 965-8581.
Here's one for serious jazz lovers. Santa Barbara City College will host its third annual jazz festival, featuring about 18 hours of music over two days.
It all begins at 8:30 tomorrow morning with the first of 49 junior high, high school and college vocal and instrumental groups in the band competition at the Garvin Theater. The schools will perform until 5 p.m. and pick up again Saturday for 7 1/2 more hours. But that's not all. A concert by the Billy Mitchell Jazz Group is set for Friday at 8 p.m., also at the Garvin. Concert tickets are $10 in advance. Call 965-5935. An all-day pass for the competition costs $3 and is available at the door. City College is located at 721 Cliff Drive.
Yes, despite all the musical activity, there will be room for more entertainment at City College. The theater group's production of "Steel Magnolias" opens tomorrow night and will run through May 18 at the Studio Theatre. The play is about a group of Southern women who meet regularly in the local beauty shop. It deals with their close friendships and how they handle great sorrow. Tickets are limited. Call 965-5935.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary tomorrow of the dedication of the Santa Cruz Island chapel, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will open an exhibit of island paintings.
Much of the artwork is from the collection of Dr. Carey Stanton, son of the Los Angeles businessman who in 1937 bought 90% of the island. The balance of the paintings are recent acquisitions by the Santa Cruz Island Foundation and include the work of Santa Barbara County artists. For information, call 682-4711. The museum is located at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara.
Speaking of new exhibits, the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum will introduce "Michael Gonzales: The Man Behind the Mask," a tribute to an entertainer and founder of the city's Summer Solstice Celebration Parade. Gonzales died of complications of AIDS in 1989.
The show will run through June 15. For information, call 966-5373. The arts forum is at 653 Paseo Nuevo.