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STELLLLLLLAAAAAAA! Stanley Kowalski a Mexican stud?

17 September 2008

Stace Medellin, who normally writes about Houston area politics on his Dos Centavos site, has shown an understandable interest in the career of actor Benny Briseño, who “unbuttons his sweaty cotton shirt to reveal tight pectorals and a V-shaped torso pointing down to his shaved caramel pubis.”

Hey, if he could play Emiliano Zapata, why couldn't Stanley be Mexican?

Don’t get the wrong idea… it’s a family thing.   Benny is Stace’s nephew, and — V-shaped torso and all — has been wowing audiences in his role as Tennessee Williams’ toy-boy Francisco “Pancho” Rodriguez in Gregg Barrios’ Rancho Pancho, now playing at the Tennessee WIlliams Festival in Provincetown and returning to San Antonio’s Say Sí Theater 9 – 18 October.  Dos Centavos reprints B.V. Olguín’s review for the San Antonio Current:

The nucleus of Barrios’ play is Pancho, who becomes a Pirandello-like character who curses Williams for pimping out his life to create characters and scenes. Streetcar becomes a particularly sore point for Pancho when he realizes their pillow talk is grist for Tennessee’s theater mill. Williams went so far as to model the woman selling funeral flowers (“flores para los muertos”) on Pancho’s mother, who sold handmade wreaths in Piedras Negras, Mexico, where Tennessee and Pancho met.

The play’s bombshell is Barrios’ assertion that Stanley was modeled on Pancho. Williams changes him to a Polish character at his director’s urging, so the play will have a “larger audience.”

Pancho retorts: “But there aren’t any Pollacks in New Orleans!,” and “Pollacks don’t go to the theater!”

New Orleans always was a Latin American city, Williams wrote (and spent time) in Mexico, had his Mexican-American toy boy … and besides… who ever heard of Polish machismo?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Joao permalink
    2 June 2012 3:10 pm

    I’m a Brazilian of Polish/Ukrainian descent and I don’t think you know anything about Slavic/Eastern European culture, because their sense of machismo makes that of Spanish/Portuguese machismo look soft. New Orleans was always a Spanish (European) and French city, nothing to do with Mexican Mestizos.

    • 2 June 2012 5:39 pm

      Actually, having grown up in the heavily Slavic-immigrant regions of western New York, I do have some familiarity with Ukrainian and Polish “machismo”. That Tennessee Williams’ toy-boy happened to be Mexican, is probably of more interest to Mexico scholars than to Williams´admirers. What matters is the “universality” of the “macho” character of the fictive Stanley Kowalksi (who, as written, is not native to New Orleans).

      There are, and have been since its founding in 1701, close cultural ties between New Orleans and Veracruz. Certainly, the unique culture of that city (largely wiped out “thanks” to the inept response of the Bush Administration to the hurricane) included Mexicans… and, from all indications, Mexicans and Central Americans are likely to be a significant portion of the city’s population in the future.

  2. 9 May 2014 6:52 am

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