Story Behind The Story
Story Behind The Story

“Your audience is right next door. It’s the neighborhood, and that’s what I walked away with, understanding I don’t have to chase after this idea of success where you have to travel far from, you have to leave your home, leave your community.”

Photo credit: Monterey County Weekly

This is the fifth episode of Story Behind the Story, a monthly interview series featuring conversations with authors about their creative process. In it, host Clara Sherley-Appel talks to local playwright Luis ‘xago’ Juarez about his series of plays detailing the history of East Salinas, called reAlisal.

Following in the documentary theater tradition, Xago conducted interviews with nearly 40 residents of East Salinas with the help of his brother, Jesus Juarez, and creative collaborator Javier Tamayo. The people they talked to became characters, and Xago based the content of the reAlisal plays on the stories they told. In this way, reAlisal tells the story of East Salinas in the voices of the people who live there.

In our conversation, Xago talks about what he learned during a summer workshop at El Teatro Capesino in San Juan Bautista, the social, economic, and political forces that shaped East Salinas as he was growing up, and why it’s so important for residents to reclaim the narrative of their region. I hope you’ll listen.