Quilapayun “La Cantata de Santa Marie de Iquique” on TV 1976

Producing Quilapayun’s “La Canata de Santa Marie de Iquique” on US Television

Nina Serrano Interviewing Humberto Martinez with the cast of La Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique, 1978, San Francisco

This 1976 taped interview is excerpted from the KQED TV production of Humberto Martinez’s theater piece based on Quilapayun’s La Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique. I interviewed cannery worker-actress Hortensia Perez, theater director Humberto Martinez about basic ideas on the uses and role of popular theater in the hands of the community. Through this theater piece and others, Community Theater Arts Workshop went beyond entertainment to become a means for people to explore and express their own histories. My ideas were very influenced by my work with Huberto Llamas creating theater based on the lives of local people in the rural areas of Cuba a year earlier. They also reflect my years of teaching, directing and producing agit prop theater in the US and my enchantment with the works of Bertolt Brecht.

The Cantata de Santa Maria de Iquique is a narrative vocal composition with instrumental accompaniment recorded by the Chilean group Quilapayun on Paredon Records, USA. It describes a famous historic Chilean Labor struggle.

San Francisco in 1976 was filling with immigrants fleeing the civil wars in Central America, the bloody Chilean coup, and the Argentine repression during the “dirty war”, all supported by US foreign policy, official or clandestinely in the shadows. At the time I was running a beautiful little non-profit, Community Theatre Arts Workshop, in the pre-computer days from my desk, typewriter, and phone in my living room. Our mission was to create bilingual theater training workshops and performances, which we did.

As I was very active in peace and anti-imperialist solidarity work, I quite naturally met Humberto Martinez a theater artist and recent arrival from Argentina. We conducted several actor training workshops together using his very effective techniques that I have since incorporated into my eclectic teaching repertory.

Humberto used techniques influenced by “physical theater” movement to train a group of cannery workers in San Jose, California to enact this moving documentary cantata. Humberto had produced this piece in Argentina but given the military dictatorship in the country at that time, he was forced to leave.

The cannery worker were a very politicized group of Chicanos and Chilean refugees who were active in the solidarity and relief efforts of Sacred Heart Church in San Jose, CA. They trained diligently. When the work was ready I produced it through Community Theater Arts on KQED’s OPEN STUDIO through the late Loni Ding, a very active and talented KQED producer and film maker.

I want to thank Daniel del Solar for having the foresight to preserve this lost documentary and Irving Fromer for creating the hand made subtitles for the film.

The entire one hour telecast of the production is available below here. Enjoy!

Posted in Blog, Film Making Tagged , , , , , , permalink

About Nina Serrano

Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 84 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.com or contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.


Quilapayun “La Cantata de Santa Marie de Iquique” on TV 1976 — 5 Comments

  1. It is so illuminating to review the recent history of our community. It is so important to keep it present . Much Gratitude Nina!

  2. I am so impressed and excited that you are getting all of this up here for us to enjoy and be inspired by…..you have me thinking…..more xxx and oooo

  3. Thank you for finding the video and uploading. Is there anyway I can please get a copy?
    Millon de gracias with gratitude


  5. Alberto, Thank you for your excellent performance and participation. Have you heard from the other actors? Have they seen it? What are thier responses. I would appreciate knowing. Maybe we can do a public showing and celebration in San Jose in 2014.

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