One of life’s greatest blessings is to give life to a tiny human whose eyes look upon you with admiration and whose arms innocently stretch toward you to lead them. That blessing, however, can come with a heck of a lot of fear and worrisome questions such as “How will I provide?” or “Do I have enough life experience to guide them in the right way?” or “If they ask who they are, how will I respond?”
In “Where Did We Sit On The Bus?” writer-performer Brian Quijada explores the latter question as he and his new fiancé try to reconcile what life will be like for their mixed-race child. Chay Yew directs an engaging autobiographical portrait of Quijada, which seeks to reconcile his own identity as a Latino man in America to sufficiently answer the questions of his future child. As a solo performer, Quijada is a charming guide. He creates a fascinating live soundtrack of his life by creating instrumental loops right before our eyes.
Though it was delightful to see the experiences that have made Quijada into the man he is today, I was left wishing certain moments were given more time than others. Specifically when Quijada recalls asking his teacher during a lesson on the Civil Rights Movement the question from which the title derives, where the “We” stands for those of Latino heritage. The teacher’s dismissive response simply being, “They weren’t around.” This complex and heart-wrenching moment displays the holes in our education system when it comes to teaching American history. Every culture should be celebrated and we should demand that extra work be put into researching them so our schools can provide a mirror for all children in their curriculum.
This moment seems to be a huge defining moment in Quijada’s life, yet he leaves it without sufficiently answering the question. What a powerful play it could’ve been if an adult Quijada could have had a sufficient answer for his young child that offered evidence to the contrary of that third grade teacher. Yet even with this drawback, the journey is delightful to watch. (Loy Webb)
Teatro Vista at Storefront Theater, 66 East Randolph, (773)599-9280, teatrovista.org, $12-$15. Through April 10.