January 20, 2021

Chutzpah & Salsa, May 15 -24


They came to America from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Venezuela, Peru and Cuba. They came to escape dirty wars, revolution, brutal dictatorships and other new forms of the horrific persecution their parents and grandparents had faced in Europe, Russia or Syria a generation before. They came speaking Spanish, feeling they didn’t belong, yet knowing that there was nothing left for them in their old homes except dead relatives in cemeteries.

These themes are the heart of Chutzpah & Salsa, a collection of short theater pieces by Hispanic authors, which will be performed in 1920s-Gertrude Stein-style salons in eight locations across the Los Angeles area from May 15-24. These are true stories about what it means to have a Latina heart and a Jewish soul.

The salons are produced by the Jewish Women’s Theatre (JWT), a non-profit organization that promotes Jewish arts and culture, one story at a time.

The show is presented in beautiful homes and venues near you. The performance address will be sent to you once you purchase your tickets ($40) online at jewishwomenstheater.org. Price includes a sumptuous dessert buffet.

Performance times—May 15: South Bay, 7 p.m.; May 16-17: West Side, 7:30 p.m.; May 18: San Fernando Valley (two shows), 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.; May 19: Mid-Wilshire, 7:30 p.m.; May 20: Performance Space on Fairfax Avenue, 7:30 p.m.; May 23-24: The Braid, JWT’s home, 7:30 p.m. n

Chutzpah & Salsa is a collection of immigrant stories that explore what you gain and what you lose in immigration,” explains Ronda Spinak, JWT’s artistic director. “All our stories share a common center, since all the writers came to America for opportunity, freedom and safety. Many had families without histories, since one ancestor escaped persecution in the early to mid-1900s for a new life in Latin or South America. For many, they soon found another round of political turmoil that gave rise to revitalized persecution and fear.”

The stories, presented by professional actors, were submitted by Latino/Latina Jewish artists, among them, Sonia Nazario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, best known for “Enrique’s Journey,” the story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Published as a series in the Los Angeles Times, “Enrique’s Journey “won the Pulitzer for feature writing in 2003. It was turned into a book by Random House and became a national bestseller.

Other writers include: Barbara Mujica, author of “Frida, I Am Venus,” several short story collections and many scholarly books. She is a professor of Spanish literature at Georgetown University and editor of “Comedia Performance,” a journal devoted to early modern Spanish theatre.

Deborah Silberstein Shkurovich, former managing editor of a Mexican trade publication, is a graduate of Universidad Iberoamericana and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She came to the U.S. 20 years ago, but says she still dreams and counts in Spanish.

Ruth Behar is a MacArthur Award-winning writer and cultural anthropologist known for her work about the search for home in our global era. She was born in Havana and frequently writes about her native Cuba.

For more information: www.jewishwomenstheater.org; (310) 315-1400. JWT at the Braid, is located at 2912 Colorado Ave. #102, Santa Monica, CA 90404.