During the advent of Chicano teatro, dozens of groups sprang up across the country in Chicano/a communities. Since then, teatristas have been leading voices in the creation and production of plays
touching minds and hearts that galvanize audiences to action.
[Wood's] work follows the long, proud tradition of Chicano and Chicana playwrights who incorporate political commentary, social commentary on race relations, bilingual dialogue and ample use of Chicano slang.
—Arizona Daily Star
Barrio Dreams is the first book to collect the work of one of Arizona's foremost teatristas, playwright Silviana Wood. During
her decades-long involvement in theater, Wood forged a reputation as a playwright, actor, director, and activist. Her works form a testimonio of Chicana life, steeped in art, politics, and the
borderlands. Wood's plays challenge, question, and incite women to consider their lot in life. She ruptures stereotypes and raises awareness of social issues via humor and with an emphasis on the use
of the physical body on stage.
The play Una vez, en un barrio de sueños . . . offers a glimpse into familiar terrain—the barrio and its dwellers—in three actos. In Amor de
hija, a fraught mother-daughter relationship in contemporary working-class Arizona is dealt an additional blow as the family faces Alzheimer's disease. In the tragedy A Drunkard's Tale of
Melted Wings and Memories, and in the trilingual (Spanish, English, and Yaqui) tragicomedy Yo, Casimiro Flores, characters love, live, die, travel through time and space, and visit the
afterlife. And in Anhelos por Oaxaca, a grandfather travels back in time through flashbacks, as he and his grandson travel through homelands from Arizona to Oaxaca.
Part of Wood's genius
is the way she portrays life in what Gloria Anzaldúa called "el mundo zurdo," that space inhabited by the people of color, the poor, the female, and the outsiders. It is a place for the atravesados,
the odd, the different, those who do not fit the mainstream. The people who inhabit Wood's plays are common folk—janitors, mothers, grandmothers, and teenagers—hardworking people who, in one way
or another, have made their way in life and who embody life in the barrio.