By The Hand of the Father is an original theaterwork that combines spoken word, music, and video to dramatize the unique 20th century journey of the Mexican-American father.
“One compelling story after another…“–Chicago Reader
“Soulful”…”uplifting”…”celebratory”…”vibrant passion”…”moving homage”…gorgeous music”…”conjures up deep wells of feeling.” –L.A. Times and LA Weekly
“…a music-theater work of slow-burning intensity” –Canada’s Globe and Mail
With original music by Alejandro Escovedo, accompanied by seven musicians, stories and poetry by Theresa Chavez, Eric Gutierrez and Rose Portillo, and video by Janice Tanaka, By The Hand of the Father weaves multiple artistic elements together to create a poignant vision of the distinctive cultural, geographic, and personal passage of the Mexican-American father. It is directed by Theresa Chavez, Artistic Director of About Productions; and produced by About Productions, an award-winning Los Angeles-based theater company; and Paula Batson Productions, an independent production company focused on music projects. Past projects of Paula Batson Productions incude the SXSW Las Manitas shows in Austin, Texas, as well as projects with Bob Neuwirth, and the Platinum CD, “Rhythm, Country and Blues.”
Premiering in June, 2000, at Plaza de la Raza’s Margo Albert Theatre in L.A., it continues to play to sold-out houses, standing ovations and rave reviews at venues throughout the U.S. and Canada. It was featured in the 2002-03 season of Austin City Limits–the first time the acclaimed, long-running PBS music show has presented a theatrical work.
By The Hand of the Father explores the intersection of two generations’ historical, cultural, national and spiritual identity. The work’s text, lyric and images depict the lives of the songwriter and writers’ real fathers, These men, whose cultural identity has straddled Mexico and the United States for generations, are the authors’ bridge to their own history, memory, and culture. Expressed in a non-linear format the piece is built from the historic resources available to the collaborators: family lore, interviews, home movies, photographs and other historical and archival material. Collaboratively they have developed an exciting new work with a distinctive structure.
By The Hand of the Father reflects the perspectives of a number men who were born in the early decades of the 1900s, products of a patriarchal culture which, for better or for worse, dictated that they have the broader societal experience than their female counterparts – at work, in war and in everyday life. Some of these men assimilated, some acculturated, and so all have varying degrees of biculturalism. But each cultural trace is remarkably strong. These traces that have left their mark throughout the century are what drive the narrative, the structure and the staging of the piece.
Performances of By The Hand of the Father have taken place at Plaza de la Raza’s Margo Albert Theatre, Los Angeles (June 2000); The Getty Center, Los Angeles (March 2001); the Autry National Center, Los Angeles (2001); 24th Street Theatre, Los Angeles (April 2001); Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago (May 2001), Seattle Experience Music Project, Seattle, WA (July, 2001), the High Performance Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta (Jan, 2002), the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada (Jan, 2002), Texas Union Theatre, Austin (June, 2002), Luckman Center for the Arts, Los Angeles (July 2002), Gammage Auditorium, Arizona State University (April, 2003), International Hispanic Theatre Festival, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (June, 2003), John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Los Angeles (June, 2003), and Merced Playhouse (October, 2003), George Mason University, Wash., D.C./Fairfax (Oct 2004), Mondavi Center @ UC Davis, (Oct 2004), Luther Burbank Center, Santa Rosa (Nov 2004), University of Arizona (Nov 2004), National Ensemble Theatre Festival (June, 2005), and University of Texas, Brownsville (April, 2006), and University of Texas, Austin (April, 2006).