International Domestic Worker day may have passed on March 30th, but the women of La Colectiva de Mujeres still have a thing or two to say about their rights.
In a new, original production, Quebrando El Silencio de Mis Manos or Breaking the Silence of My Hands opening this Friday at the Mission Cultural Center for a two night run, the collective chronicles the real day-to-day lives of immigrant workers in San Francisco.
“These ladies have been abused in their jobs, we’re breaking the silence and saying we want change, we want change for people,” said Guillermina Castellanos, the organizer of La Colectiva de Mujeres.
The collective, in collaboration with La Raza Centro Legal is comprised of Latina immigrant women who formed a group to offer support, job advice and a forums to advocate for their rights.
“We’re all domestic workers or have been domestic workers, says Castellanos’ daughter and cast member, Mireya Arroyo, “these are all things we have gone through.”
Director and performance artist Violeta Luna gave the actresses aliases and asked them to describe difficult on-the-job predicaments. The play, in part, emerged from these improvisations.
Issues such as on the job abuse, health dangers and family unity are just a few that are addressed in the series of short scenes performed by members of the collective.
Many of the women are first time actresses, and even more came straight from their long days on the job to the four-hour rehearsals leading up to opening night.
“It’s frustrating,” says Arroyo of the stop and go of rehearsal, “we’re tired but it’s a release.”
And as the women worked with Luna to perfect blocking and nail important monologues, the joy was evident on their faces.
“We love it,” said Arroyo.
Luna and the collective hope to educate and entertain the audience and to engage with it at the end of each performance.
“We want employers to see that women need rights. People need to know that the job we do, cleaning houses, is the same as any other, we deserve rights.”
“We’re doing it because there are women who don’t speak up. We want them to speak up for themselves and be more independent,” Castellanos said.
Quebrando el Silencia de Mis Manos will be performed at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Art. 2868 Mission Street (between 24th and 25th street). 8pm, Friday, April 3rd and Saturday, April 4th. Tickets $5-$15.