‘American Sueno’ shows dreams can happen for everyone

Leia Ostermann

Love and life, amor and vida, are the two ideas that everyone searches for their whole lives, the dream that identity and an identity based neither on culture nor sexuality. The bilingual play, “The American Dream,” observed the lives of four Latinos struggling to identify with a culture and community in which they do not fully belong.

“I am American, but I am not. I am Mexican, but I am not. I am nothing,” said the lead character, Agustín Obrero de la Torre, played by Joaquín López.

Set in America, this play had very strong Latino vibe. The set, the music and the language all was a mix between Mexican and American culture. Because it was bilingual, the characters seemed realistic, speaking sometimes in English and sometimes in Spanish, depending on who they were talking to or what they were trying to say.

Even though I speak no Spanish and understand only a few of the more common words, I was able to completely follow the story of the play, if only through the very clear emotion present in the actor’s monologues.

The story followed a man who lived a closeted gay lifestyle and was an illegal resident in the U.S. After his father was injured in a car accident, Agustín needed money and fake immigration papers in order to fill out financial assistance claims to pay for his father’s surgery. In the meantime, his sister was dealing with anger towards her injured father after he threw her out of the house when she expressed her bi-sexuality. A cross-dresser that Agustín flirts with then tries to find love in his arms. Throughout the whole play there is also a homeless woman that wanders around expressing the mantra that all the characters are thinking, “I am nothing.”

This play was one hour long, yet it covered topics that are usually discussed over hours of lengthy debate: sexuality, culture, family and acceptance. Every scene was tied together with beautiful music accompanied by López on the guitar. From the minute the play began, the music set a mood of romantic-nostalgia but also an undercurrent of sadness, as the characters dealt with their identity crises.

The angle of using marginalized lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people as outsiders in the same way that illegal immigrants are outsiders really showed the contrast of the two worlds in an emotional way.

“I am not American, I am not Mexican, I am not a man, and I am not a woman,” Agustín said. “I cannot prove I am legal because I have no papers and I cannot prove I am illegal because I look like a gringo.”

Because of the harassment that gays commonly face, this play showed how such judgment can tear people apart. However, something like deportation can tear people apart as well, whether because of money or papers or family. This play compared both aspects under the idea of freedom, not being free to express your sexuality however you prefer, and not being free to live in the country of opportunities.

The play was a social commentary on how everyone, legal or illegal, straight or gay, is all just looking for love and acceptance and a place or person to call their own.

“In just an hour the actors really addressed a lot of heavy topics in a beautiful way,” said senior English major, Breanne Patton.

Patton was there on an assignment from her Spanish class, but she also enjoyed the cultural observations that the play expanded on.

“I was hoping to follow some of the Spanish so that I can begin to understand what people are saying,” Patton said. “But my favorite part was with the transgender man dressed up as a flamenco dancer. So funny.”

Leia Ostermann can be reached at [email protected]