Theater Review: “Trío Los Machos” At CASA 0101
The play tells the story of three men who migrated to the United States to work as part of the Bracero Program, which was a diplomatic contract between the United States and Mexico for the importation of temporary contract laborers. The Spanish term bracero means "strong-arm," and the program was launched in response to a demand for manual labor during World War II, when American men were off to war. Many of these Mexican laborers were physically and verbally abused and were exploited for their work. To this day, many of them are still struggling with civil lawsuits for the return of 10 percent mandatory deductions taken from their pay, from 1942 to 1948.
Although the play focuses on a serious issue, it is also very lighthearted by emphasizing the value of friendship, love, sexuality, machismo, and is further buoyed by the fact that everything is told in a comedic perspective.
The time frame of the play alternates between when the three men (Paco, Lalo and Nacho) were young and their current life as older men living in Boyle Heights.
In Boyle Heights and many other Los Angeles neighborhoods there are large populations of men who were braceros, including the playwright's father, which is why Lopez decided to write a play about it.
“He shared with me what it was like, and when I saw photos I was so sad to see how they were treated like animals,” Lopez said. “It was so easy to write this play because I felt like I understood my father’s pain. I grew up seeing him very quiet, cold and distant, and as I got older I realized he was covering up a lot of pain.”
The other two characters, Lalo and Paco, were more expressive and open about their feelings, but all three men never married and only had each other. Even though they shared a love-hate relationship for one another, they were committed to each other because they had no one else. Lalo, played by Miguel Santana and Gilbert Rodriguez, was the sweet and diplomatic one of the group who initially wanted to become a priest before joining the bracero program. Suddenly, when Lalo suffers a stroke and is in a coma, which happened during a fight between Paco and Nacho, their life dramatically shifts. They begin reminiscing about the old days and are reminded of why their friendship is so special.
To find out what happens you’ll have to watch the play. You will laugh, cry and learn about a struggle rarely talked about.
“I want people to learn about the history of the braceros, especially the people that don’t know anything about this missing chapter in history that gives no credit to these men,” said Lopez. “I want people to appreciate this music and to me it’s also about the acknowledgement of the contribution of Latino men to this country.”
Reach Anabell here.