When John Leguizamo performs his one-man show Latin History for Morons in San Antonio this month, he hopes to deliver more than just laughs and entertainment to the audience. The Colombian-born actor wants to enlighten people about the often-ignored contributions Latino people have made to the United States.
“The show is incredibly personal and informative,” Leguizamo, who wrote the play, told the Rivard Report. “I feel like traveling with the show across the country … hopefully I’ve been able to influence a lot of Latinx people and non-Latinx people into appreciating Latinx people, and appreciating themselves.”
Latin History for Morons first debuted at New York City’s Public Theater in 2017. It tells the real-life story of Leguizamo’s efforts to educate his adolescent son – who endured racist, anti-Latino bullying at school – about Latino history, much of which is missing from U.S. textbooks. The show, which features comedic recaps of events such as the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and other stories about lesser-known Latino patriots in the Revolutionary War, was nominated for a Tony Award in 2018 for Best Play and won a special Tony for promoting diverse stories.
Leguizamo said delving into research to share with his son unexpectedly changed him. It ignited a desire in him to continue researching Latino history, taking a stand against the lack of this information in U.S. textbooks, and eventually creating this show to share his findings with more people. He thinks the lack of information about Latino communities in the “official” tellings of U.S. history represent the “disenfranchising of Latinx people from owning the building of America.”
The longtime New Yorker has been outspoken about his desire to promote Latino stories and rights in the U.S. He especially wants to make an impact on audiences in Texas, a state he has criticized for “disempowering Latinx people.” Before his shows at San Antonio’s Majestic Theatre this month, he will perform at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. He sees his performances in Texas as acts of resistance to the ways he believes the state marginalizes its Latino populations.
“I feel like Texas is a really important place because it should be a blue state, but because of gerrymandering and voter repression and all the dirty tricks to keep people from utilizing their vote” it’s not, Leguizamo said. “… I felt like it was my duty to come there and light a fire” under State leaders.
Local audiences appear eager to see the show. There was such a high demand for tickets that a second performance in San Antonio was added to the tour, according to Majestic Theatre staff. Leguizamo said he’s eager to return to the city that’s the hometown of presidential hopeful Julián Castro, whom he praised as a “bright” and “wonderful” candidate.
Latin History for Morons will be at the Majestic at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28. Tickets, from $39.50 to $129.50, are available for purchase at the Majestic Theatre box office, by phone at 800-982-2787, and online here.
Leguizamo said he’s been approached by teenagers and young adults after his performances who have told him that they’re angry that they haven’t learned about the stories, accomplishments, and impacts Latinos have made on the U.S. One example of information he finds particularly pertinent is that Latino people have fought in every war in U.S. history.
He thinks Latin History for Morons can “give people a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership” in the building of the United States.
Latin History for Morons seems tailor-made for audiences in San Antonio, a majority-Latino city with a robust community eager for expanded Latino subject matter in schools, particularly focused on the city and state’s Mexican American heritage. Leguizamo said he hopes local viewers “walk out feeling empowered … and understanding that we have to do a lot of research and make sure that history textbooks change and include Latinx contributions.”
“The kids can’t be educated without knowing what our contributions are to the making of the country,” he said, “because Latin history is American history.”