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A collective play performed by Teatro del Piojo

Published by Editorial Ce Atl, February 1980. Edited by Rubén Rangel. All rights reserved. Contact:

Editor’s note: Tortilla Curtain was performed in 1979 by Teatro del Piojo, a Chicano student theatre collective at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Musical Introduction: Piojo Song

Acto 1: Pancake Patrol

Acto 2: Coyote y Pollo

Acto 3: El Movimiento Restaurant

Acto 4: El Baile Chicano

Acto 5: El Tomate Trucha

Acto 6: Tortilla Curtain

Musical Ending: El Pueblo Unido Song

Characters (in order of appearance):

Migra-One (George)

Migra-Two (Fred)






Contratista, smuggler

Boss, (Chico Gonzales) restaurant owner

Juan, restaurant supervisor

Spanic (George Garza)









La Jura




Tomate Trucha

Libby’s Canned Corn

Nestle Crunch Candybar

Adolf Coors Beer


Banana Chiquita

KKK Secretary


Archie Bunk

Reverend Wizard Earl Lee Ray (Judge)








Musical Introduction

(Lights up. All actors on stage sing Teatro del Piojo theme song, music fades with final coro.)

All sing: El Teatro del Piojo les va presentar

muchos actos nuevos les van a gustar.

Coro: Tiro, lo tiro, lo tiro-liro-liro,

Tiro, lo tiro, lo tiro-liro-lan. 

Cantamos, bailamos, los hará pensar

póngale cuidado lo que va pasar.


Somos, los piojos, piojos de Aztlán

tratan de matarnos y nunca podrán.


Piojo unidos vamos a vencer

con el carnalismo tendremos poder.


(Lights fade.)

Voice off-stage shouts:  LA MIGRA!

(All piojos run off stage and hide among the audience.)

Acto 1: Pancake Patrol

(Dark stage. Enter two Border Patrol officers with flash-lights.)

Migra-One: I saw one go that-a-way, Fred.

Migra-Two: Yeah, I saw some up on that hill, George.

M-1: Stick together, them wet-backs like to gang up on ya.

M-2: Yeah, let’s get a couple of them greasers and then call for reinforcements. (They approach audience, asking spectators for proof of citizenship, acting racist and fascist.) This one looks illegal to me!

M-1: Yeah, he looks like an alien; dirty clothes, long hair and sandals. Let me see your driver’s license. Who’s the President of our country? Who’s the Governor of Texas? Answer me, boy! Tennis pawpelees?

M-2: George, over there! (A mojado sneaks toward stage. He is chased and caught.)

M-1: Alright! Hold it there, beaner! (Officers hit the Mexicano as he is being hand-cuffed. He screams in pain.) Shut up, spick or I’ll arrest you for assaulting an Officer of the Law!

M-2: There goes a big buncha Meskins, George!

M-1: Too many. Besides, we ain’t supposed to catch ’em all.

M-2: Okay, but let’s look for one o’them little señoritas, they’re fun to catch. (Mojada runs from audience area across to stage and is caught.) Hold it, hold it! We got ya!

Mojada: AAAaaaaaiiii! Dios mio! Dios mio!

M-1: Too late for that now, señorita. Your friend Dee-os Me-os dun run across the border without you.

M-2: Let’s take ’em in, George.

M-1: Right, Fred. Let’s go. Vam-moose! Man-os pa re-ba!

Acto 2: Coyote y Pollo

(A troupe of mojados cross stage cautiously, one is playing a corrido on guitar.)

Mario: (Singing.) Porque somos mojados/ siempre nos busca La Ley/

Solo buscamos trabajo/ para esperanza tener/

Porque la vida es muy corta/ y tenemos que luchar.

(The troupe stops at center stage during the song.)

Mario: Bueno, ya cruzamos la línea.

María: Dónde? Yo no veo ninguna línea.

Mario: No seas pendejo, (He hits her.) Ya estamos en el U.S.A.

María: Usa? Por qué no dices Estados Unidos?

Mario: Porque, aunque nos trata de ahogar, matar y rechazar, siempre nos usa.

Ninfa:  Pero, ahora que hacemos?

Mario: No sé. No tenemos dinero, ni trabajo ni nada.

Ninfa:  Pos, no que conocías alguien que sabía de un trabajo?

Mario: Sí, pero se lo llevó la Migra. (Se oye una troca.)

Contratista: BBbbbrrrrraaannn!  BBRRRRRAANN!  EEERRRT! (y entra el contratista.)

Contra: A la mo! Ya se les ’ta ’cabando las brakes de esta troquita; but good for a few more trips hauling mojaditos. (To audience.) Hey, look over there! Mexicanos! The Wet-back kind! (Gets out of his truck.) Ey. Ey. Oigan, ustedes mexicanos, vengan pa’’ca. Vengan, hombre! (Mojados approach suspiciously.) Este…quieren trabajo?

Los Tres: Sí, sí

Tratista: Bueno entonces, vamos en mi troca. (Mojados move toward the truck.) Wait a minute, wait. Este…cuatrocientos dólares, primero.

Mario: No tenemos dinero.

Contra: What! No money! Ay, que Raza. How do you pendejos expect a contratista like me to make money? You think I like hauling you around como vacas jediondas! Okay, mira. Les doy un ride en mi troca, free. Gratis. Pero trabajan en un restaurant en Seattle, sin paga, por dos años.

Ninfa: En dónde queda Seattle?

María: No, no, eso es mucho tiempo sin pagar. Y cómo vivimos? Cómo pagamos la renta y todo?

Tratista: Bueno, bueno, trabajan free por seis meses nomás. Y duermen allí en el restauran y les damos frijoles y tortillas y quien sabe qué más. Y también les arreglamos los papeles.

Mario:  O sí, entonces sí. Vamos. (Canta.) Ya se va de aquí la raza/ ya se va pa’l otro lado/ Ya se va de aquí la raza/ de toditito el estado. (Contratista leads them all off stage in his truck.)

Acto 3: El Movimiento Restaurant

Mario: (Singing, with guitar.) For authentic Mexican food/ come to the Movimiento Restaurant/ Their old-fashioned recipes/ will leave you feeling pleasant. (A procession of workers enters, headed by el patrón.)

Boss: Okay, Juan, looks like another good day for business.

Juan: Right, boss.

Boss: But look, Juan, these tables have to be set.

Juan: Right, boss. (Yells at first worker.) Ponga esas mesas allí, ándale! It’s done, boss.

Boss: And these floors need mopping, Juan.

Juan: Right, sir. (Yells at another worker.)  Ponte a lavar ese piso, mojado!

Boss: And all those dirty dishes in the kitchen.

Juan: Right, boss. Ándale, tu, María, pa’ la cocina a lavar esos platos, pronto, pronto! (Juan follows his boss’ every move to front of stage.)

Boss: Yeah, it looks like you brought me another good crop from down South, Juan.

Juan: Yeah, they is dumb Mexicans, but they sure do work hard.

Boss: Keep it up and you could be in for a raise.

Juan: (Eagerly.) Yeah, boss, I mean, you’ve done so much for La Raza in this city. You’ve already opened up five restaurants in the Seattle area. Pretty soon you’ll branch out to El Valle de Yákima. (El patron le tira un billete al piso. Juan scoops it up and stays on his knees.) I can see it now, boss: El Movimiento Restaurant, Incorporated! You’re so trucha, boss. (Boss throws otro dolar, and after picking up the money, Juan stands up.) I mean, who else would think of it. Bring mojados from México and don’t pay them nothing but beans, beans, and more beans. Who says slavery is dead?

Boss: Never mind that, Juan. We have customers now. (Enter two well-dressed Hispanos.) Hello, welcome to The Movimiento Restaurant, I’m Chico Gonzales, owner.

Spanic: Good evening, my name is George Garza. I was recently appointed by the Governor on Hispanic American Affairs in Employment. My wife and I just moved here from New Mexico.

Boss: Well, you won’t find any employment problems here. Juan, see these people get the best. (All undocumented workers come out and take coats, bring water, silverware, chips and dip, etc.)

Spanic: My, you really have an efficient staff.

Boss: Yes, all hard-working citizens.

Juan: Hard-working, at least.

Spanic: And you have a good show of hiring women and minorities. I’ll have to write that up in my next employment report to the Governor.

Boss: Yes, I only feel that I’m doing my part to make America what it is. I am keeping unemployment down and keeping people off welfare.

Juan: (To the audience) Keeping people down and keeping everything for himself.

Boss: Take Juan, here, for example. (Juan snaps to attention.) When I found him he was cold, (Juan shivers.) hungry, (Juan doubles over.) and poor. (Juan shows empty pockets.) But now.

Juan: Now, I’m making it in the world! Who says Chicanos don’t know how to pull up their own bootstraps? Yesterday, I was in the streets of East L.A., stabbing my own brothers and sisters. Now, I have a job and I’m studying Business Administration at the University!

Hispanic: (With a slightly worried look.) Wow! That’s very impressive.

Boss: Well, thank you! And, now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go count my money. (Boss exits.)

Juan: And he has a lot of money to count, too! Well, would you like to start with a drink before dinner, sir?

Spanic: Yes, a drink sounds fine. (Juan claps his hands and Mario enters with a wine-list and a white towel draped over his arm.) Well, what would you like, dear?

Wife: I think I’ll have a margareeda, please.

Hispanic: And I’ll have a chi-chi.

Mario: (Shouting to the kitchen, snickering) Una margarita y una chi-che! (He hurries off and returns immediately with the drinks, then leaves.)

Wife: My goodness, that was quick!

Juan: We also have live Mexican music in the Aztlán Room, for your listening pleasure.

Wife: Oh, that sounds wonderfully exotic! Could we have some music at our table?

Juan: Certainly, ma’am. (Goes off stage.) Mario, ven pa’cá y trae tu guitarra. Ándale! Cántales una canción.

Mario: (Romantically.) Atiéndeme, quiero decirte algo…doloroso tal vez…

Juan: (Cutting the song short with applause.) Aquí está tu peseta, vete! And only two dollars a song, sir.

Hispanic: Well…put it on my bill.

Juan: Right, sir.

Wife: They certainly have a very authentic Mexican atmosphere, honey.

Spanic: We may be closer to Mexico than you think, dear.

Juan: Would you like to order, now? (Juan claps his hands and shouts.) María! (She enters quickly.)

María: Sus ordenes, señor y señora?

Wife: I think I’ll have this Ch-eye-l Re-la-no.

Spanic: She means, Chilly Re-yeah-no.

María: Pero, que número es eso? Cada plato se ordena con un número!

Panic: Ah…what did she say? She spoke so fast.

Juan: Well, sir, we use a number system here, and the chile relleno is number three.

Spanic: That’s nú-mer-o tres!

Juan: Very good, sir!

María: Y qué quiere usted, señor?

Spanic: (Struggling.) I’ll have the Ja-cin-to Tre-vi, vi, vin-yo, the Jay-Sin-Toe Tree-Vinyo Hamburger and the Cesar Chavez Caesar salad, that’s Numer-O Dos! (María leaves to get the order.)

Juan: You have a very good command of Spanish, sir.

Spanic: I used to speak it as a child…that is, I studied it in school. Let me give you some good advice, John. I believe that any man that is going to be successful in the Hispanic Community has got to be bi-lingual.

Juan: Right, we’re all into that bag of money, now. Funding for bilingual education. How about another drink, sir?

Spanic and Wife: Yes, that sounds good.

Juan: Mario! (Juan claps and Mario enters.)

Mario: Sí, señor.

Spanic: My wife will have another margareeta and I’ll have two more chi-chis.

Mario: Dos chiches? (Laughs. He returns immediately with three drinks.)

Spanic: Tell me, Juan, where do you get your help?

Juan: Well…(Mario spills drink on Mister Spanic.)

Mario: (Trying to wipe as Spanic stands up.) Perdón. Perdón, señor.

Juan: (After hitting Mario several times.) Very sorry, sir! It’s the new help. We’ll have the coat dry-cleaned for you, free of charge. (Mario is on the floor.)

Spanic: Well, I suppose that will resolve the problem. But, tell me, Juan, do you always hit them that way?

Juan: Sure. They’re used to it, coming from Mexico. Would you like to try it, sir?

Spanic: Can I? I mean, do you think I should, what with my position and all?

Juan: Well, you would be showing your strong stand on Law & Order. Teach these wetbacks a lesson, sir.

Spanic: That seem proper. (Hits Mario.)

Juan: Very well done, sir! (Mario slinks away.)

Spanic: I must say, that made me feel mucho macho!

Wife: George, don’t get yourself excited!

Juan: You have a good left jab, sir.

Spanic: Yes, I started boxing in high school and I was platoon champ in the Army.

Wife: All this violence has made me hungry. What about our dinner?

Juan: Right, señora. ¡María! ¡Apúrate con la comida!

María: (Enters quickly.) Bueno, aquí están las tortillas y sus platos de comida. Perdónenme, pero les puse un poquito de chile. Que no se me ’nojen.

Spanic: She talks mighty fast.

Wife: So charming.

Juan: She just wanted to warn you, she added a little spice. Well, enjoy your dinner. (Both guests start eating.)

Spanic:  Got damn!

Wife: ¡Aaaaayyyyiiii! This is hot!

Juan: What’s the problem-o, sir?

Panic: This food is too damn hot, that’s what! (Spic and Span prepare to leave in a huff.)

Juan: Wait! I’ll get you some water and another Jacinto Burger. Please don’t leave.

Spanic: No, this place is terrible! (Boss enters.)

Boss: Juan! What’s going on here! Wait, Mr. Garza. (Wife slaps Boss as she exits behind Spanic.) Juan! I have never been so insulted and humiliated in my life! Now, what happened here, Juan!

Juan: Well, first Mario, he spills a drink on the man, and then María puts too much chile sauce in the food, Boss.

Boss: Juan, call those wetbacks out here, at once!

Juan: Right, boss. (Juan runs off stage.) ¡Mario! ¡María! ¡Salgan pa’cá! (Juan brings them out.)

Boss: Juan, I want you to tell these workers that I’m running a business here, not a zoo!

Juan:  ¡Dice el patrón que este es un restaurant y no un lugar para animales!

Boss: I must set an example, Juan. Tell them they are both going back to Mexico.

Juan: Right, boss. Bueno, dice el patrón que los va mandar los dos patrás pa’ México.

Mario: No, no patroncito.

María: No, no me puede mandar pa’trás. Tengo mi familia aquí y necesito trabajar. Por favor de Dios, no me mande pa’trás. Hago todo lo que diga. 

Boss: What is she saying, Juan?

Juan: She says she has a family and that she’ll do anything to stay here.

Boss: Well, she’s kinda cute. She can stay. But no pay for six more months.

Mario y María:  ¿Qué dice? ¿Qué dice el patrón?

Juan: Bueno, dice el patrón que tú estas “kinda cute” y que te puedes quedar. Pero trabajando sin pagar por seis meses más.

Mario: ¿Y yo? ¿Me puedo quedar también?

Juan: Tú, ¡Que te lleve la Migra! (Enter Officer.) Officer, this man is an alien!

Migra: Her, too? (María is crying and holding Mario’s sleeve as they drag him away.)

Juan: No, she works for us. (Officer takes Mario away, Juan follows boss off-stage opposite.)

Acto 4: El Baile Chicano

(Three women are stage-right, putting on make-up, and one man stage-left grooming himself. Un músico is back-center-stage and his band is playing the song: Tilingo Lingo. The song is ending:

Ay, tilín tilín tilín

Ay, tolón tolón tolón

Que bonitas, que bonitas

Las hijas de Don Simón.)

Lydia: That’s a nice band, ¿verdad?

Nancy: Sí, but there’s nobody to dance with.

Blanca: What about those guys over there?

Lydia: ¡Son mojados!

Nancy: I’m not going to dance with a wetback.

Blanca: Well, I think the one that just came in is nice looking.

Cisco: ¡Órale! (Shakes hands with the other men.) Yo soy de Durango. ¿Y tú de dónde eres?

Rubén: Yo soy de San Luis Potosí. Apenas acabo de llegar aquí en este valle.

Cisco: Sí, hay que tener cuidado, la migración esta muy dura por ahorita.

Rubén: Sí, y yo no tengo papeles. ¿Tú?

Cisco: Tampoco estoy arreglado, pero, (Points to women.) ahorita nos arreglamos. (Enter two Chicanos.)

Miguel: ¡Chingado! ¡Mira ése, todos los mojados! They always ruin the dances. No te digo.

Moises: ¡Simón! Los huelo hasta’cá. Pero, como quiera las rucas no bailan con ellos.

Músico: Ahora seguimos con la bonita selección: “Que Me Lleva El Diablo.” (Mojados move across stage to women, cutting in front of the Chicanos. One mojado gets to dance, the other is turned down many times. Both Chicanos get partners.

Que rayos me pasa a mi,

Que quiero llorar gritando…

Maldito sea tu amor,

Como te estoy adorando.

Que suerte me cargo yo,

Quisiera no haber nacido

Pa’ que te fui a conocer,

Si eres un caso perdido.

After first two verses of song, music dies down.)

Moisés: (Dancing with Nancy.) What’s wrong with Blanca, ésa? She’s making us look bad, dancing with a mojado.

Nancy: I know. We told her, but she still dances with them. Next time, we won’t bring her to the baile!

Moisés: ¡Simón! (Song ends, everyone applauds. Chicanos escort Chicanas stage-right.) Ese, Miguel. Mira a ese mojado. Estaba bailando con nuestras rucas.

Miguel: I know. ¿Quién se creye? (They approach Cisco.)

Moisés: Oye, mojado. ¿qué pedo traes? (Pushes Cisco.)

Cisco: Pos es baile, ¿que no? Yo no quiero pleito con nadie. (He is pushed to the floor. Police enter.)

La Jura: Hold it! Police!

Lidia: It was the wetbacks!

Nancy: The wetbacks started the fight!

Chota: Wetbacks? They all look the same to me. Come on, you dirty Meskins, manos pa’rriba! (Police exit with gun pointed at prisoners Moisés and Cisco.)

Músico: Lo siento mucho, raza, pero este baile se tiene que terminar. No podemos tener baile con pleito como éste. Buenas noches, raza.

Acto 5: El Tomate Trucha

(A customer enters with a shopping cart. In the cart is a person dressed as a tomato.)

Consumer: Well, I guess I better get some groceries for the party tonight. Let’s see, I need candy for the kids.

Crunchy: In that case, take me!

Consumer: Who are you?

Todos: (With music.) N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles makes the biggest mess, dead babies!

Consumer: You look like a tasty candy.

Tomate: Wait! Don’t take him. Don’t you know that Nestle’s is killing babies in Third World countries?

Consumer: Well, I do remember reading something about that.

Tomate: They pressure women to buy their milk formula instead of breast-feeding by saying Nestle’s is better. Then the babies die of malnutrition because the mothers can’t afford to use the canned formula properly.

Crunchy: We’re just trying to keep the world population down. Don’t listen to that tomato.

Tomate: Do you want dead Latino babies on your mind?

Nestle’s Crunch: I’m crunchy.

Consumer:  No. I’ll just take this other candy. (Consumer moves on, with cart.) Well, now I need some canned corn.

Libby: Then, take me!

Consumer: Why should I take you?

Todos: ’Cause, (Sung, with music.) when it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s, on the label, label, label, you will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table.    

Libby: (Singing solo.) When it says Libby’s, Libby’s. (Dancing.) on the label, label, label… I’ll just get right in your cart, here.  

Tomate: Oh, no you don’t! Libby’s is another Nestle’s product, just like Nescafé, Taster’s Choice, Souptime and Los Hermanos Wines.

Consumer: Let me check the label. (Libby bends over.) It doesn’t say Nestle’s.

Tomate: Those multi-national corporations are sneaky. You should get a complete list of Nestle’s products and put it on your refrigerator door to remind you what not to buy.

Consumer: That’s a smart idea. But I better get some beer to put inside the fridge, or there won’t be much of a party tonight.

Adolf: Well, in that case, take me.

Consumer: And, who are you?

Adolf: I’m the beer of Adolf Coors, who came to this country in 1856 and has been exploiting workers ever since.

Todos: (Cantando.) Make it Coors, make it yours, make it Coors.

Adolf: (Trying to get into cart.) Why don’t you take home half a case?

Tomate: Hold it, buddy! Adolf “Hitler” Coors is a fascist pig! He doesn’t hire minorities and won’t let the workers unionize.

Adolf: Don’t listen to that rotten tomato, We’re new in Washington State, made with Rocky Mountain spring-water.

Consumer: Well…I don’t know. I did want to try the spring-water beer.

Adolf: We’re non-pasteurized.

Tomate: Non-unionized, too!

Consumer:  No, I can just take this other beer. (She moves across stage with cart.) So many different boycotts. It’s a good thing though, to support other workers, the way the farmworkers were helped by the Gallo Boycott.

Lechuga: Hello, how about some fresh, crispy lettuce to make a salad?

Consumer: Hey, I know about you. The United Farmworkers are on strike against you.

Lechuga: Darn! How did you find out so fast?

Consumer: Chicano grape-vine. I know, I’ll just make a fruit salad, instead.

Banana: Then, take me, señorita.

Consumer: Who are you?

Banana: (Canta sola, with music.) I’m the Chiquita Banana and here I stand. The biggest product of United Brands.

Todos: (Cantando.) You can see the blue sticker, and know Chiquita tastes better! You can see the blue sticker, and know Chiquita tastes better! You can see the blue …

Tomate: (El Tomate interrupts.) ¡Basta! Enough! The United Farmworkers also called for a boycott on Chiquita.

Consumer: But, what do bananas have to do with lettuce?

Tomate: Chiquita is the most well-known product of United Brands Company, one of the largest growers of lettuce where campesinos are on strike!

Consumer: I’ll just take another fruit, then. (She moves the cart to center-stage.) But tell me, how come you’re not being boycotted?

Tomate: Me? Porque…(Begins singing.) Yo estoy con Chávez, Sí, sí señor. Yo estoy con Chávez y con la Unión…

Acto 6: Tortilla Curtain

(Secretary is seated stage-right. Two men with white hoods are seated at center-stage.)

Secretary: (Answering phone on desk.) K-K-K Headquarters, may I help you? Yes, we’re still taking applications. Thank you. (Phone rings again.)  Klu Klux Klan, may I help you? Yes, we ordered 50 white hoods dry-cleaned, no starch. Pick them up Friday? Yes, thank you. So busy today. (Man enters.) Hello.

Billy: Hi ya! Ma name is Billy Joe and I’d like to join the Klu Klux Klan.

Secretary: Well, great! I just need to know a few things. First off, who sent you Mr. Billy Joe?

Billy: Well, I saw your ad in the Dallas Times. Tha full-page ad with the nigger hangin’ from a tree.

Secretary: That was a meskin in that picture.

Billy: They all look the same ta me.

Secretary: Well, that musta been ’cause he was burnt up. Right this way for your interview, Mr. Billy Joe. (One of the hooded men stands up.)  Mr. Billy Joe, sir. (She exits.)

Archie: Hello there son, my name is Archie Bunk and this here is the Grand Wizard, Mr. Earl Lee Ray.

Earl: Howdy, boy. Sit down. Tell us about yourself.

Billy: Well, I’m from Plains, Georgia. Lived two blocks from Jimma’s house!

Earl: Hear that, Archie. He’s from Plains, Georgia! We got ourselves a celebrity here!

Archie: Well, we’re kinda rushed, Billy Joe, what with plannin’ this Tortilla Patrol and all.

Billy: Yeah, I heard about that and I wanna tell ya, I came from Georgia to get away from all them niggers and then I come he’a to Texas and see nothin’ but greasers.

Archie: Well, we’re going to change all that. But, first, we’d like to ask you a few questions. First off, how do you feel about Injuns?

Billy: Scalp ’em! The only good Injun is a dead Injun.

Earl: How do you feel ’bout niggers?

Billy: Slave ’em! That’s how it should be.

Archie: Very good! Now, the big question: How do you feel about Meskins?

Billy: Re-fry ’em! (They all stand up.)

Earl: You sound like Klan material to me. Welcome to the Klu Klux Klan of America! (They shake hands.)

Archie: We have a rally planned for Saturday, that’s where you’ll be officially sworn in.

Billy: I don’t know what to say. This is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Thank ya. And I’ll be there Saturday. (They all leave the stage.)

All: (Beginning off-stage.) B-A-K-K-K! Support your local Klan today! (A procession of white-hooded actors stops center-stage. Archie stands up on a chair. There are cheers and shouts.)

Archie: Fellow Klan-members, we are gathered here today at the El Paso border to do our duty as American citizens and keep them greasy Meskins out of our good, White country! Let me hear a big “White Power.”

All: White Power!

Archie: I can’t hear you.

All: White Power!

Archie: Louder!

All: White Power! (They applaud themselves.)

Archie: We are tired of them Spicks stealing all our milk and honey and not selling us any of their oil! (Applause.) We have Bakke on the Education Front, and Weber on the Labor Front! We’re gonna teach them minorities who’s still the boss! (Applause.) Now we have a new Klansman. Billy Joe, come on up here!

Billy: My name’s Billy Joe and I’m from Plains, Georgia. I ain’t much for words, but I say let’s re-fry them Meskins on an electric Tortilla Curtain! (Applause.)

Archie: Here is your Texas Klan Hood, Billy Joe.

Billy: Just the right cull’a. (Applause, cheers. Billy Joe steps down from the platform.)

Archie: Now, before we get into our cars with our guns and C.B. radios to keep this Great Country from ruin, we’ll have a few words from the Reverend Wizard, Earl Lee Ray! (Earl gets up on platform as Archie steps down.)

Earl: Fellow Klan. Bow your heads! (All drop to their knees.) Pray to the Good Lord Jesus, that He might give us strength in our sacred mission: to restore White Supremacy in this country, to keep this country free from Aliens that would make us weak. (Several “amens” and shouts from the hooded members.) May White people all over the world unite in peace and happiness. With the dark race serving the White, as it was meant to be. We ask this all in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen!

All: Amen! (They begin to stand up.)

Earl: Now, before you leave, I want you all to dig into your pockets. Dig deep,’till it hurts! And take out some of that green stuff and support your American Klu Klux Klan. (As money is being collected, Earl begins a single-file march to front of stage, singing.)

Oh, I wish I were in the land of cotton

Old times there are not forgotten

Look away, look away, look away, Dixie-land.

All: Oh, I wish I was in Dixie, hurray, hurray!

In Dixie-land I’ll make my stand to live or die in Dixie.

A-way, away, away down South in Dixie!

A-way, away, away down South in Dixie!

(As they sing, each Klans-member removes hood to reveal to the audience a sign around their neck. The reverend, who is first, is a Judge. The others are Tycoon, County Sheriff, Media, Businessman, Politician and Migra. They whistle Dixie as they exit.)

(Canción campesina plays in the background, “Brown-Eyed Children of the Sun.” Hay dos Xicanos y dos Indocumentados piscando algodón.)

Xicano: Mira, the sun is already going down y todavía estamos trabajando. I’m gonna tell the boss that we’re quitting. 

Xicana: Yeah, all day in this sun y luego toda la noche también? No, ’ombre, esto no vale.

Mojado: Pero, ya mero ’cabamos y nos va pagar el patrón.

Mojada: Sí, pero como me duele la espalda. (Patrón enters with brown bag.)

Patrón: Well, Paco, you all jus’ ’bout done here!

Xicano: No, boss, I quit.

Patrón: You don’t mean that, Pancho. Here, I brought you some Coors beer and Nestle’s candy for the kids. (Patrón exits quickly.)

Mojado: ¿Que dijo el patrón?

Xicano: Que nos trae cerveza.

Mojado: (Looks inside the brown  bag.) Mira, y dulces también.

Xicano: Como ’taba diciendo, el patrón es de aquellas

Xicana: No, yo digo lo que necesita el cabrón es una huelguita.

Xicano: Bueno, sí. Pero no una huelguecita, ¡Una huelgota! Que paren de trabajar todos los obreros.

Mojado: No, yo no quiero nada de eso.

Mojada: Yo tampoco, yo nomás quiero que me paguen.

Xicano: No, mire. Con huelga ganamos una unión y mejor pago.

Xicana: Sí, y beneficios pa’ los niños y seguro social.

Mojada: Eso está bien pa’ ustedes, pero nosotros no tenemos papeles ni número social.

Mojado: Sí, ¿qué nos ayuda a nosotros tener esa huelga?

Xicano: Pero la unión ayuda a todos los trabajadores, con o sin papeles.

Mojado: ¡Bueno, entonces a la huelga!

Todos: ¡Huelga, huelga, huel…! (Patrón enters.)

Patrón: Wait a minute. What do you think you’re doing?!

Xicana: We’re on strike!

Patrón: What! You can’t strike against me! I’ll call the Immigration on you!

Xicano: Who cares? (Patrón exits, angry.)

Mojada: ¿Qué dijo el patrón?

Xicano: Nada, nada. ¡Que siga la huelga!

Todos: ¡Huelga, huelga, huel…! (Migra enters with siren and guns.) Mojados run off stage-right. Migra follows them.)

Xicano: Those mojados are chicken. We don’t need them. ¡Huelga, huelga, huel…! (Two hooded members of the KKK enter stage-right with Migra following behind them.)

Klan: B-A-K-K-K! Kill a Mexican today! B-A-K-K-K! Kill a Mexican today! (They chase xicanos off stage-left. Mojados enter stage-right with Migra following them.)

Migra: Immigration! Immigration! Stop those illegals! Stop those Aliens! (Enter xicanos from stage-left, with KKK in pursuit.)

Klan: B-A-K-K-K! Kill a Mexican today! (Xicanos are crowded together with mojados at center-stage.)

Xicana: ¿Por qué nos siguen? We’re United States citizens!

Mojada: Y a nosotros nos siguen porque no trabajamos como esclavos.

Xicana: Con armas nos roban la vida, con armas ganaremos la libertad. (Taking up arms.)

Todos: ¡Todos somos mexicanos! ¡Y unidos venceremos! (Cantan “El Pueblo Unido” song by Quilapayún, grupo de la nueva canción chilena.)

El Pueblo Unido

De pie, luchar que vamos va a triunfar. Avanzan ya banderas de unidad

Y tú vendrás marchando junto a mí y así verás tu canto y tu bandera florecer

La luz de un rojo amanecer, anuncian ya la vida que vendrá.

De pie, luchar, el pueblo va a triunfar. Será mejor la vida que vendrá

A conquistar nuestra felicidad y en un clamor mil voces de combate se alzarán

Dirán, canción de libertad. Con decisión la patria vencerá.

Coro: Y ahora el pueblo que se alza en la lucha

Con voz de gigante gritando: ¡adelante!

El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido

El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido

La patria está forjando la unidad. De norte a sur se movilizará.

Desde el salar ardiente y mineral al bosque austral unidos en la lucha y el trabajo irán.

La patria cubrirán. Su paso ya anuncia el porvenir.

De pie, luchar, el pueblo va a triunfar. Millones ya imponen la verdad

De acero son, ardiente batallón, sus manos van llevando la justicia y la razón

Mujer, con fuego y con valor, ya estás aquí junto al trabajador.


El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!

El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!

El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!


Photos courtesy of Rubén Rangel (Rehersal at the University of Washington’s Ethnic Cultural Center, Seattle, 1979).

1 comment so far ↓

  • 1 Ruben Rangel // Jun 1, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Tortilla Curtain was performed by El Teatro Del Piojo at the University of Washington, Seattle in 1979.  The six short actos, or scenes, pull back the curtain on the super-exploitation and oppression of Chicano Mexicano workers, highlighting the boycotts of Coors, Nestles and Chiquita Banana. Tortilla Curtain also touches on the interplay of sexism, toxic masculinity and petty bourgeois nationalism that feeds into the systemic racism and class divisions in the United States. The play was written at a time when vigilantes were patrolling the U.S./Mexico border to keep out “aliens.

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