SAN ANTONIO – Although fictional, the drama “Chato’s Bridge” could have taken place in the vicinity of the historic Guadalupe Theater, where the play will premiere Thursday evening.
“This is a play about really good kids who were put in a really terrible situation,” said Georgette Messa, who is making her directorial debut.
Written by Mono Riojas Aguilar, a professor of English at San Antonio College, “Chato’s Bridge” takes place on San Antonio’s West Side, where Aguilar grew up.
Jorge Pina, the theater arts director at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, is also a West Side native. He said the play is reminiscent of what each of them experienced.
“Guys that somehow always got in trouble, but somehow there’s always a hero there,” Pina said.
In the story of “Chato’s Bridge,” set in the 1970s, four young boys come to the rescue of a little girl being raped by a rival gang.
“They actually escape with the little girl on their bikes, but the two who were left behind were killed,” Messa said.
Pina said, “It’s about love. It’s about loyalty. And through that process, there comes revenge.”
Messa said it further compounds an already difficult upbringing.
“Chale and Simon have grown up in the barrio and have fallen victim to years of generational trauma,” she said.
Messa and Pina said the two survivors deal with the trauma of their friends, Chato and Fofo, being killed by wanting to avenge their deaths.
Rather than reinforce stereotypes of life on the West Side, Messa said, “Their love for each other and their loyalty and their very strong moral code perseveres throughout the play, and they really are heroic.”
“Chato’s Bridge” premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and a 3 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets are available at the Guadalupe Theater box office and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center website.