Barrio Dreams is the first book to collect the work of one of Arizona’s foremost teatristas, playwright Silviana Wood. During her decades-long involvement in theater, Wood forged a reputation as a playwright, actor, director, and activist. Her works form a testimonio of Chicana life, steeped in art, politics, and the borderlands. Wood’s plays challenge, question, and incite women to consider their lot in life. She ruptures stereotypes and raises awareness of social issues via humor and with an emphasis on the use of the physical body on stage.
The play Una vez, en un barrio de sueños . . . offers a glimpse into familiar terrain—the barrio and its dwellers—in three actos. In Amor de hija, a fraught mother-daughter relationship in contemporary working-class Arizona is dealt an additional blow as the family faces Alzheimer’s disease. In the tragedy A Drunkard’s Tale of Melted Wings and Memories, and in the trilingual (Spanish, English, and Yaqui) tragicomedy Yo, Casimiro Flores, characters love, live, die, travel through time and space, and visit the afterlife. And in Anhelos por Oaxaca, a grandfather travels back in time through flashbacks, as he and his grandson travel through homelands from Arizona to Oaxaca.
Part of Wood’s genius is the way she portrays life in what Gloria Anzaldúa called “el mundo zurdo,” that space inhabited by the people of color, the poor, the female, and the outsiders. It is a place for the atravesados, the odd, the different, those who do not fit the mainstream. The people who inhabit Wood’s plays are common folk—janitors, mothers, grandmothers, and teenagers—hardworking people who, in one way or another, have made their way in life and who embody life in the barrio.
“[Wood] es considerada como una genio, pues su narrativa, que en primeras instancias parte de los eventos ordinarios, poco a poco va llegando a caminos inesperados, llenos de trasfondo, reflexión y sensibilidad.”—El Imparcial