Executive Producer Ruben Martinez and Local Producer Maria Vilma Duran of the live performance titled Little Central America, 1984 discuss sanctuary cities, Central American migration, politics, and more.
Sanctuary cities are our necessary creation.
Little Central America, 1984 is a live performance that explores the origin story of the “Little Central Americas” established across the United States as a result of the civil wars of the 1980s. The performance utilizes poetry, live music, and testimonials, drawing upon first-hand witnesses of the conflict in Guatemala and El Salvador, which displaced up to one million people and spawned transnational solidarity through the Sanctuary Movement.
This new production will premiere at one of Houston’s own sanctuaries, the First Unitarian Universalist Church. Alongside writer-performers Elia Arce and Rubén Martínez, the cast includes a local Central American poet, a father and his four daughters from Houston’s Salvadoran community, and local Latinx musicians. The show culminates with a ceremony honoring Central American activists and their allies who played a role in the original Sanctuary movement or who have responded to the ongoing contemporary refugee crisis. Local community vendors will sell regional food and drink before the show.
The work presents this American and Central American story to make visible a forgotten chapter in our history and to shed light on the deep context of violence and trauma that today’s refugee crisis stems from – violence that Little Central America, 1984 approaches with the healing salve of art.
Little Central America, 1984 was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
- Conceived by Rubén Martínez
- Executive Producer: Rubén Martínez
- Produced and Directed by Elia Arce
- Written and Performed by Elia Arce, Rubén Martínez
- Co-presented by DiverseWorks and Circuit Network
Rubén Martinez is a native of Los Angeles and the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador. He is a writer, performer, and teacher. He is the author of Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape and Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail and other titles. He is currently the host and writer of the web-based interview series “Excavating the Future,” a collaboration between PBS-affiliate KCET of Los Angeles and independent online magazine Capital & Main. He is also the creator and host of the VARIEDADES performance series, multidisciplinary performances that reveal hidden histories in Los Angeles and the borderlands. Two of these, The Ballad of Ricardo Flores Magón and VARIEDADES on Olvera Street, were filmed for broadcast by PBS-affiliate KCET. He is the recipient of an Emmy Award, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Elia Arce is an artist working in a wide variety of media, including installation, writing, experimental theater, social sculpture, and photo/video/sculptural and live performance. She has performed and taught in universities and art centers throughout the United States, Great Britain, Mexico, Brazil, Mali, Spain, Cuba, Canada, and Costa Rica. A critical study of Arce’s body of work was published in 2018 by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University. Currently, her work is being exhibited in Costa Rica at Museo del Banco Central, Museo de Arte Costarricense, and at _cero_uno_; a space for artists by artists. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Costa Rica, she has received awards and fellowships from Getty Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, National Performance Network, National Endowment Fund, Durfee Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the US Fulbright Program.