El Barrio del Mangó Bajito is an original toy theater play about a mango tree in the gentrified neighborhood of Santurce, Puerto Rico whose fruit was lost every season due to privatization and land speculation. The puppet play was staged in a super-sized “pop-up” book to narrate the interrelated stories of a community struggle and a mango tree. In the story, we encounter a real estate developer from the U.S. – a reference to our colonial status – excited about the possibility of capitalizing on the land and the fruits of its labor.
The narrative mirrors what our communities experience daily: a neighborhood stricken by violence and poverty where developers see an opportunity to jumpstart their capital project. In the story, the community also organizes, resists, and fights back against gentrification, displacement, and exploitation.
Each character has an extraordinary power, at times supernatural, due to the constant “experimentation” the U.S. has performed on Puerto Rican people and land, others as a consequence of the resilient nature of the working class, which struggles to survive in a capitalist society.
The piece was first performed in 2010 at the 9th Toy Theater International Festival in St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY. Later, it was performed at the Brecht Forum in NYC, the Boston Teachers Union School in Massachusetts, and Papel Machete’s 5th Anniversary show at La Respuesta in Santurce, PR.
The play is currently being adapted by AgitArte artists into the graphic novel, MUCHO MANGO.