1996: 13 Dias / 13 Days

Winter? of 1997, Tour: Local?

Written by Joan Holden, Paula Loera, Daniel Nugent & Eva Tessler
Music by Bruce Barthol, Liberty Ellman & Eduardo Lopez Martinez
Lyrics by Bruce Barthol & Eduardo Lopez Martinez
Directed by Daniel Chumley

13 DIAS / 13 DAYS featured performers Alex Torres, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Monica McMurty, Jennifer Tafolla, Leith Burke, Adam Sanchez, Michael Rabago & Scott Bowman
and band members Bruce Barthol, Liberty Ellman & Eduardo Lopez Martinez

View original playbill
View playbill, tour

Addition reading info

Poster Design: Left/Right Stuido
Alfredo Ramos-Martinez, Mexican Solders, ca. 1932, oil on canvas

The Tony Award™-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe in association with Borderlands Theater of Tucson, and Academy Award™-nominated filmmaker Lourdes Portillo brings Mexico's 1994 Zapatista uprising to life onstage in 13 Days/Trece Dias, a multi-media play with humor, high drama, powerful video scenography, and songs inspired by Mexican popular music.

On New Years's Day, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, thousands of armed Mayan peasants calling themselves the Zapatista Army of National Liberation emerged from the Lacadon rainforest in Mexico's remote southeastern state of Chiapas and took seven towns, to demand land rights and protest provisions of the treaty. Armed with sticks, old hunting rifles, and sharp media instincts, the new Zapatistas won worldwide admiration and peace talks with the Mexican government after only thirteen days. The S.F. Mime Troupe (whose specialty is satire, not pantomime) dramatizes the importance of this bold action by the poorestof the poor, by tracing its impact on the lives of characters both north and south of the border.

In Chiapas on the last day of 1993, an Indian villager and a priest urge a Mexican regional army commander to return a communal cornfield which a local cattle baron has seized for grazing land: a young Indian woman-turned-Zapatista soldier prepares to go into battle, and an illiterate market vendor says goodbye to her educated, U.S.-bound daughter. In the capital, Mexico's then-president Carlos Salinas and his inner circle celebrate the advent of NAFTA. In Phoenix, a computer nerd abandons his pregnant, compulsive-shopper wife and his virtual reality job, and heads south on a birdwatching trip to Chiapas.

By the next morning, the rising wind of history will overturn all their lives. Emiliano Zapata, mexico's martyred revolutionary leader, steps onstage as an unquiet spirit who brings historical perspective to the events of 1994. Any similarities between characters and actual persons, living or dead, are hilariously exagerated.

Known for its long history of international collaborations on subjects ripe for political satire, the SFMT was approached in the summer of 1995 by Borderlands Theater of Tucson, Arizona to co-create 13 Days/Trece Dias. Building on work initiated the year before by Borderlands writers Paula Loera, Daniel Nugent, and Eva Tessler, principal SFMT playwright Joan Holden collaborated on a new script which culminated in a workshop production at Pima Community College, Tucson in April 1996.

For the full production of the final script, director Dan Chumley has teamed up with Mexican-born Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Lourdes Portillo of Xochitl films, who has created compelling video backdrops. Mexican actor-musician Eduardo Lopez Martinez of Cuernavaca's Grupo Zero and longtime SFMT composer-lyricist Bruce Barthol are collaborating on a full musical score with songs in Spanish and English, based largely on traditional Corridos and Ranchero music.

Recent events underline the production's timeliness. In chiapas, peasants have staged 1,700 land occupations since the initial uprising, and government troops still use force to evict them. In September, the Zapatistas withdrew from peace talks in the wake of uprisings by a new revolutionary group, citing the government's failure to negotiate seriously. Political assassinations have exposed wide cracks within Mexico's ruling party. The Clinton Administration's $50 billion bailout package may have stabilized the peso, but not the lives of most Mexicans, many of whom are calling for change.

"Where we live used to be Mexico," Holden points out. "We have a common history that nobody here knows about, but everyone there does. People pour in from there, they change life here, yet we know almost nothing about what they've left behind. Our show's about today and tomorrow, but it's also a beginner's lesson in Mexican history."

Reviews and Articles:

"A sweeping new play that chronicles the bloody beginnings of a peasant movement for justice that still continues."
Tucson Weekly - 4/17/96

SF Examiner (3/21/97)
review by Robert Hurwitt

"Mime Troupe finds a voice" (3/19/97)
by Craig Marine

ABQ article (10/27/96)
by Ann L. Ryan

The ultimate resource page about the Zapatistas.
Zapatistas in Cyberspace

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