It’s called New Carpa Theater. It was established 15 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona, by noted local playwright James E. Garcia. This nonprofit artistic organization has been an integral creative outlet for performance art and social development among the Latino and multicultural community here.
The word “carpa” is the Spanish word for tent. In the 1920s and ‘30s so-called carpa theater was the Mexican-American answer to the American tradition of vaudeville, a kind of traveling variety entertainment theater that bloomed from the 1880s to the 1930s. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: https://michael-lacey.com/ and http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427427/Jim_Larkin
Today Carpa Theater is less vaudville and more dramatic art, putting on plays written and performed by members of the local Latino community, sometimes including migrant peoples and undocumented workers.
For the latter, getting involved in Carpa Theater can be a life-affirming activity. It is a way for people to express and share their life experience through the art of the stage.
The superb work of Carpa Theater has attracted the support of the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund, which recently donated money to produce a play titled “1070.” It’s the story of an immigrant family of mixed status and how they confronted head-on Arizona’s notorious “papers, please” law.
The Larkin and Lacey Fund gets its name from the two men who founded it, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, the publishers of the Phoenix New Times. The men used $3.7 million they were awarded in a lawsuit against Maricopa County.
They sued the county after its former sheriff, Joe Arpaio, ordered Larkin and Lacey summarily arrested for writing news stories he did not like.
Sheriff Arpaio is infamous for his illegal and unconstitutional treatment of migrant workers and Latino people in general, including American citizens.
Sheriff Arpaio’s arrest of journalists Larkin and Lacey for exposing his brutal tactics was a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protection of a free press.
Now, however, the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund is well-positioned to provide aid, assistance and support to those very Latino groups that were once victimized by a corrupt sheriff. Carpa Theater is a classic example of an artistic-cultural community enhancement the Frontera Funds likes to bolster.
Carpa Theater has also presented such plays as “Lost Boys Found” by Julie Amparano and “My Own Way,” a one-cat play by Nicole Huguez. Another popular production featured at Carpa is “How We Love Now,” billed as an “artists collective.”