By Noah Katz ’24
March 24th and 25th marked the debut of Skidmore’s most recent student-directed Studio Lab: Luis Valdez’s Los Vendidos, directed by and starring Skidmore’s own Fabian Rodriguez (‘22). Los Vendidos tells the story of an encounter between salesman “Honest Sancho” and the secretary for the Governor’s office, Miss Jimenez (played by Fabian Rodriguez ‘22 and Stella Storino ‘23 respectively).
Miss Jimenez has come to Honest Sancho’s store in search of “a Mexican,” who are depicted throughout as robot-like automatons, built to take orders and tolerate disrespect. One by one she is introduced to the Farmworker (Bryant Juarez Pizano ‘24), Johnny Pachuco (Omar Gomez ‘23), and The Revolutionary (Steven Pineda Porfirio ‘23). And while each may have their own benefits, Miss Jimenez doesn’t find one she deems suitable for the environment of the governor’s office. But Honest Sancho reveals his final model, which he had been hiding “in the back” up until that point, The Mexican-American (Javier Soto ‘25). Sancho is sure The Mexican-American is the perfect fit for Miss Jimenez and all of her secretarial needs. And for a moment, he’s correct. Miss Jimenez immediately picks The Mexican-American, handing over a huge sum of money to Sancho on the spot, everything seeming to have worked out perfectly. That is until The Mexican-American begins to chant words of liberation and Chicano empowerment. This confuses and upsets Miss Jimenez and she asks for Sancho to repair the Mexican American, as surely something must be wrong with him. But the other previously ignored Mexicans reanimate, and, along with the Mexican-American, begin to encroach on Miss Jimenez, chasing her out of the store before splitting the money she hurriedly left behind. Ultimately, the play reveals that it was in fact Honest Sancho who was a lifeless robot all along, and not the four models as we had previously thought.
While Los Vendidos was first written by Luis Valdez in 1967, the play allegorizes an aspect of the Mexican American lived experience that many know all too well. The depictions of these models as unfeeling worker drones, or criminals to be feared, along with the poor treatment they are subjected to throughout the play, serve to hold a mirror up to the world, and the audience. It highlights a pattern of oppression and mistreatment that has permeated not only American attitudes towards Mexicans but the perception of what it is to be Mexican in general.
In his director’s note, Fabian Rodriguez shares that his decision to pick Los Vendidos to perform this year came from a feeling he had experienced of never being wholly comfortable in his Chicano identity, and always feeling “too Mexican,” or “not Mexican enough.” Naturally, Los Vendidos spoke to that dilemma he had been experiencing and decided that it was a play that needed to be shared with Skidmore, and Skidmore’s Latinx community.
Noah Katz ’24 is a staff writer for the Skidmore Theater Living Newsletter