John Leguizamo Puts Latinos in the Historical Conversation

John Leguizamo - H 2015
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The writer-performer's new satirical solo show, 'John Leguizamo: Latin History for Dummies,' will premiere at the Public Theater in spring 2017.

From Mambo Mouth and Spic-O-Rama through Freak, Sexaholix ... a Love Story and Ghetto Klown, John Leguizamo's identity as a Colombian immigrant who grew up in Queens, N.Y., has been front and center in his string of successful solo shows. Now the writer-performer will expand that subject beyond the personal to explore the national historical landscape in John Leguizamo: Latin History for Dummies.

Directed by Tony Taccone, the new satirical one-man show, created and performed by Leguizamo, will have its New York premiere at the Public Theater in spring 2017. The show is being co-produced with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where Taccone is artistic director and where Latin History will debut this summer, ahead of its New York bow.

Hatched out of Leguizamo's observation that the Latino contribution is essentially overlooked in the standard American history curriculum, the show aims to school the performer's son — and the audience — in the vital roles that Spanish-speaking immigrants have played in building the nation.

"Just imagine you're a white kid and all of a sudden everybody's Latin and everything they're teaching you is Latin and you don't hear anything about yourself or about your contributions," said Leguizamo in a statement. "And it's really weird and unfair because we had huge contributions."

Covering 3,000 years over the course of 90 uncensored minutes, the show spans from a satirical recap of Aztec and Incan history to stories of Latin patriots in the Revolutionary and Civil War and beyond.

The Public Theater is currently represented by three Broadway transfers of productions that began at its downtown base, including last year's Tony Award winner for best musical, Fun Home; Lin-Manuel Miranda's blockbuster, Hamilton; and Danai Gurira's Eclipsed, starring Lupita Nyong'o.

Exact dates for Latin History at the Public have not yet been set.