Professor twists familiar stories in nontraditional play

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Mariano Aguilar Jr., English and Mexican-American studies professor, will speak at an information session for undocumented students. File Photo

By Giovanni Maccarone

“Hoops of Steel,” written and co-directed by English Instructor Mariano Aguilar Jr., is a nontraditional play with five scenes that do not follow one plot line but are all inter-related by theme.

Opening this week at the Jump-Start Performance Art Theatre, the play takes on the themes of “loyalty” and “faith” and twists them into already familiar stories or songs such as the biblical stories of Jesus and Judas or Samson and Delilah, “Waiting for Godot,” a play by Samuel Beckett, and the Willie Nelson song “Pancho and Leftie.”

Aguilar’s twist on these stories is making a minor character in one story into a major character in another.

“We all live in our own stories,” Aguilar explained Sept. 7.  “You’re the protagonist in your own story, but you’re a passing character in my own story. That’s kind of how I’m dealing with this.”

He started writing the play as an individual scene in a 48-hour Play Fest, a local competition sponsored by the Viva Theatre Company, where writers compose a scene in 24 hours and actors have another 24 hours to learn it before performing.

Over time, Aguilar had up to five scenes that he thought would go good together by theme, but not by plot.

“Sometimes in the writing process, I’m engulfed and I’m ready to go, and I have four or five scenes just flowing out of me; and then sometimes there’s nothing,” he said. “It’s a desert.”

The play took a year and a half to produce.

Aguilar is interested in how the audience will examine his play and process the themes. He hopes audience members will re-examine their own ideas of faith and spirituality whether it be in family and friends or the faith to get through the day.

“Even though the characters from one scene to another have nothing to do with each other, that over-riding theme is what we’re trying to drive to the audience,” he said.

Aguilar has written two other plays, “Chato’s Bridge” and “Adelita,” both performed at this college.

The play runs Sept. 14-15, 21-22 with showings at 8 p.m. and Sept. 16 with a showing at 3 p.m. at the Jump-Stat Performance Art Theatre, 710 Fredericksburg Road.

Tickets start at $12 with discounted $10 tickets for students, military and seniors.

For more information, call Jump-Start at 210- 227-5867 or email Aguilar at


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