Las Azurduy: A Theatrical Performance Honors the Life and Legacy of a South American Feminist Freedom Fighter


[PICTURED: [email protected] — Cast of Las Azurduy. Photo: Michelle Castillo]

A South American warrior and heroine, Juana Azurduy de Padilla – who played a pivotal role in Bolivia’s struggle for independence from Spain in the 1800s – is synonymous with the empowerment of women.

But his story is little known.

For more than a century, Azurduy has been denied the recognition it rightly deserves and its history is still little taught in school. But her story is now coming to life and will be showcased in San Francisco.

The La Lengua Theater and the Brava Theater Center present the play “Las Azurduy”, presented from August 19 to 28, which presents not only the history of Azurduy, but also the legacy of women’s resistance in Latin America.

Museo_Historico_Nacional_-_Juana_Azurduy
Juana Azurduy, oil on canvas. Unknown author. Museo Histórico Nacional.

The project, which involves an ensemble of Latinx women, a playwright and a creative team, hopes to shed light on how women have historically been erased, minimized and silenced.

Virginia Blanco, founder of the La Lengua theater and one of three performers embodying the spirit of Azurduy in the play, said Azurduy was a key figure in the armed struggle for South American independence vis -à-vis the Spanish domination at the beginning of the 19th century.

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“[Azurduy] fought side by side with her male counterparts and a lot of them have their monuments and are in the history books, but we didn’t know about Azurduy or what she looked like,” Blanco said. “And now, just seven years ago, then-President of Argentina Cristina Fernández decided to put a statue of her in Buenos Aires, built on top of an old memorial to Christopher Columbus.”

Virginia Blanco, founder of the La Lengua Theater and one of the three performers embodying the spirit of Azurduy in the play Las Azurduy. Courtesy picture.

This year, the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic added Azurduy to its 200-peso note alongside military leader Martín Miguel de Güemes, according to a May 25 Buenos Aires Times article.

The Juana Azurduy Monument stands in Plaza del Correo across from the Kirchner Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo: Dennis Jarvis

“And that’s why we’re doing this game because in a time when Latin American women aren’t getting the proper credit, we’re speaking out against machismo,” Blanco said.

Playwright Florencia Aroldi said Azurduy represents a female collective of Latin American women from around the world.

“While writing this, I was inspired by [Azurduy’s] bravery at a time when women were not seen in battle and she fought alongside her husband Manuel Ascencio Padilla and other male soldiers,” said Aroldi. “She was a pioneer and an innovator and told her husband that she didn’t need to stay home just because she was a mother.”

Aroldi said just as Azurduy was a mother and a warrior in her day, women can now be successful mothers and professionals.

“That’s why the play is called ‘Las Azurduy’, and three actresses embody his character because it shows how Azurduy we all are,” said Aroldi. “I wish all the women who see the play.”

Director Eugenia Arbol said her goal was for audiences to realize that the light of Azurduy is alive in all of them and that the fight for a better community and world continues to grow stronger.

“Looking back in history, women did not have significant visibility and this piece tries to make visible what was invisible for many years, that is, the social and historical presence of women” , said Arbol.

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Blanco said the play will be in Spanish but will include the indigenous Aymara and Quechua languages ​​with English surtitles.

“I want the audience to be exposed to different kinds of emotions, gestures, voice inflections because we actresses don’t speak Quechua or Aymara, but those voices are included in the narrative,” said White. “We are working on the decentralization of English in the arts. People go to the opera and it’s not in English and they read surtitles, so why not see a play in Spanish or in the native languages. It is a matter of fairness.

For tickets, visit brava.secure.force.com/ticket/#/events/a0S2M00000O553hUAB

Ticket Scale:

● General admission $25

● $50 Support La Lengua (priority seating)

● $100 La Lengua Mecenas (priority seats + 1 free drink)

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