Often considered the final conquest and ultimate summation of Manifest Destiny, California holds a unique place in the American imaginary. While the popular mythology of the Spanish fantasy has served to obscure the use of violence and racialized oppression throughout the colonization of the American Southwest, traces of such struggle remain in memories of the colonized as they continue to occupy this contested space. This paper examines Carlos Morton’s ensemble-based political satire, Rancho Hollywood, and Theresa Chavez’s one-woman show, L.A. Real, to navigate the dynamic experience of contemporary Southern Californian racialized identity. These two pieces diverge stylistically but share an inclusive, nuanced approach to making sense of history, exploring the material and epistemological impact of historical representation on Chicana/o identity over time. Rancho Hollywood and L.A. Real counter-identify with the Spanish-fantasy heritage by rejecting stereotyping, questioning sanitized versions of Californian history, and voicing personal narratives that resist dominant regional myths and their associated racial ascriptions. Each play stages alternative versions of history that include personal experience and cultural memory; this transformative, productive approach to identity formation articulates agency over the memory of California.
This article was originally published in Modern Drama, 2014, Volume 57, Issue 2.
Mohler, Courtney, "“A Little History Here, a Little Hollywood There”: (Counter-) Identifying with the Spanish Fantasy in Carlos Morton’s Rancho Hollywood and Theresa Chavez’s L.A. Real" (2014). Scholarship and Professional Work – Arts. 20.