Masa (ma-sah) is the maize-based dough used to create corn tortillas; it is also the foundation of a plethora of Latin American dishes from tamales, to gorditas, to pupusas. It’s dry flour form, masa harina, is created through a process of preparing maize that spans millennia, yet remains nearly unchanged from its origins in the ancient Aztec empire. Naturally, with food and culture undeniably intertwined, the significance of masa remains for many Latinx folks, from its daily consumption to gaining a rite of passage.
Orange County’s own South Coast Repertory has joined forces with the Second Harvest Food Bank are paying tribute to the food that’s baked so lovingly into the hearts of many with a “live online fiesta”, and the opportunity to help those with insufficient access to nutritious food during the COVID-19 pandemic this Monday, August 17th at 5:30 p.m.
MASA, directed and curated by Juliette Carrillo and dedicated to Karmin Murcelo, Maricela Ochoa and Diane Rodriquez, is a collection of four short pieces relating to the eponymous flour and its importance, which will be performed live in front of a digital audience and feature the following stories:
- The Gardens of Aztlan (An Acto Hecho A Mano), by Luis Alfaro, follows a woman who leaves her dead-end tortilla-making job to find a place where her skills will be appreciated. She connects with other women tortilla makers in search of their lost heritage.
- “El Maiz” from Café Vida by Lisa Loomer, stars women from rival communities who, after serving time in prison, find a fresh start through growing, cooking and serving food. At the heart of the story is the hunger for community, inspired by the author’s interviews with the women of the real LA-based Homegirl Café (a division of Homeboy Industries) which transforms young people through culinary training.
- “Tejuino” from Tejuiino by OC playwright Amilcar Jauregui, tells stories that are important to him and to empower the Latinx community. The Mexican beverage tejuino is made from fermented masa and sugar, giving it a simultaneously sweet and tangy flavor.
- The Path to Divadom, or How To Make Fat-free Tamales in G minor by late playwright Diane Rodriguez, is the story of a young woman named Rachel who decides to make masa completely from scratch, and her journey to take her place in the family as a keeper of the tradition.
The premiere event of SCR Community— new online series of free readings, events, interviews and community-centered stories to engage the public with the power of live theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic– will is hosting a virtual food drive with Second Harvest Food Bank, in which every $1 donated provides the equivalent of 3 meals to those in need.
The August 17th online reading of MASA is free, but RSVPs are required in order to receive the link to view the live event. Reservations may be made online at scr.org.
You may view this free YouTube performance by reserving one (1) “ticket” per household. (RSVP on the right by “buying” a free ticket.) Please reserve only one place connected with your email address per streaming device you will be watching. Ticket holders will be able to access the reading through a link sent out midday on Monday, August 17.
MASA is the first of three in SCR Community’s El Teatro de la Comida event series, which explores how food brings us together, even when we’re forced to stay apart.