English professor pens play about barrio life

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Chato' Bridge“Chato’s Bridge” will be performed at two nights Jump-Start.

Ana Victoria Cano


“Chato’s Bridge” is a story about love, loyalty and revenge, said its playwright, English Professor Mariano Aguilar.

“Chato’s Bridge” focuses on two men who experience the murder of their friend, said Aguilar, who started writing the play five years ago.

Chale and Simon, the main characters, are waiting for one of the murderers to get out of jail so they can exact revenge.

The names Chale and Simon are symbolic. In the Chicano culture “chale” is slang for “no” and “simon” is slang for “yes.”

In the play, Chale is a negative character and Simon is positive. Aguilar said the characters are not based on anyone from his life.

“Chato’s Bridge” is set on the West Side of San Antonio in 1979, the same time and place in which Aguilar grew up.

“When I was growing up in the ’70s and the ’80s, the West Side was all Mexicanos, South Side was Mexicano, East Side was black and North Side was white,” he said. “Now there is more mixing of the groups, but back then, especially my side of the West Side, was very poor Chicano.”

The people who murder the protagonists’ friend were “spray heads.”

During the play’s time period, drug users on the West Side would buy spray paint, spray it into a paper bag and inhale the fumes to get high, also known as “huffing,” he said.

According to Aguilar, much of the story is based on situations he and his family experienced.

Aguilar said he has written short stories and one other play, but “Chato’s Bridge” is his first play performed on stage.

Aguilar has taught at San Antonio College since 1998. He started as an adjunct, but 10 years ago came on full time.

“Even though the characters and the setting are West Side barrio San Antonio, the themes are universal. Anyone could relate to them,” he said.

Aguilar started writing the play when he was teaching ENGL 2307, Creative Writing, to show students examples of what they had to do.

However, he was not writing all the time; he wrote intermittently and finished it this summer.

The play is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Jump-Start Performance Co., 710 Fredericksburg Road.

Tickets are $10. For more information, call 210-277-5967 or visit www.jump-start.org.


1 Comment

  1. I got the chance to see “Chato’s Bridge” on opening night at SAC. I thought it was well written and acted. It was awesome. Props to Professor Aguilar for bringing this play to life. Again I say, awesome.

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