A look into ‘Heroes and Saints’


Annabella Mireles

The play is located inside the Wise Family Theatre and is selling at $18 for adults, $15 for UTEP Alumni, faculty and staff, non-UTEP students, and $12 UTEP students.

Elisha Nuñez, Staff Reporter

As the weeks of spring semester have gone by, new campus events and recurring ones are steadily rolling out. 

One such event that signals the start of UTEP’s theatrical productions for the semester is the years’ first play, “Heroes and Saints.” 

A play by Chicana feminist, poet, activist, essayist and playwright Cherríe Moraga; the production is set on the backdrop of issues that are political, social, religious etc. 

“This play is about the struggles of living in fields and how a lot of women were oppressed during this time,” said Daniela Chavez, a theater performance major at UTEP. “It’s basically a very empowering play (aimed) towards women, how we take a lot of the things that men don’t. I am playing Ana Perez, the reporter. She just shows up throughout the play to do her job, but then (she) gets more (involved) with the community and stuff.” 

The drama is set in the 1980s and takes place in the fictional town of McLaughlin, Calif., which is based on the real town of McFarland. 

It centers around Mexican immigrant farm workers and citizens in the town who are affected by the toxic pesticides in the fields nearby.  

The effects from living near the fields vary from terminal illnesses to birth defects. 

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  • Characters Amparo and Dolores talk about their struggles in a pesticide-ridden community.

  • The play is set in the fictional town of McLaughlin, California and centers around Mexican immigrant farm workers and their town which is being affected by toxic pesticides in the fields.

  • Amparo and her family looking at the protestors in the stands.

  • “Heroes and Saints” had their opening day Feb. 24 at the Wise Family Theatre located at UTEP’s Fox Fine Arts hall.

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Combined with, unsafe working conditions inspired the townspeople to take a stand against the problems, while trying to solve their own personal ones.  

“It’s kind of out there. It has some pretty, kind of scandalous scenes, and it touches on multiple issues,” said Lucero Mendoza, a theater performance major at UTEP. “There’s a lot of pain and sensitive topics. I would describe this play (as) very unapologetic. I play Amparo. She is an older woman who starts the snowball of the protests. She is the main leader of this little revolution in their town, and she really is the voice for everybody in the town as far as trying to seek justice.” 

The play focuses on a couple of residents in the small town, including the Valle Family. 

The family consists of four characters: Dolores, the religious mother, Yolanda, a daughter who has become a mother to Evalina, Mario, who hides his sexuality from his mother, and Cerezita, the youngest, who was born without a body and is seen in the play as just a head on top of a moving box. 

Other characters include a Catholic priest named Juan and Amparo, a friend of the Valle Family and activist for the residents of McLaughlin and more.  

The play dives into the dilemmas of each character, from physical deformities to clashes with faith. 

All the characters’ issues were portrayed with perfection and each of their stories brought the big picture to life. 

“I definitely think it’s an important thing to show the community because these things are still happening,” said Darenka Zamora, a theater major in performance at UTEP and an ensemble actress in the play. “Even though it was written a long time ago, there’s still a lot of cases with kids who are born with health problems, and there’s not a lot of change. I did a little bit of research on it, and I think about 11,000 people die a year in America alone due to pesticides. So, we have all of this information and still nothing is happening.” 

 In emotional scenes and even some risqué moments, “Heroes and Saints” was a bold start for UTEP’s 2023 theater season. 

Despite the plays’ age, it still proves to be a relevant story that tells of issues still happening to many in modern-day America. 

“This play was written a while ago and it’s in the eighties, yet it has so many topics that we still see today,” said Daniela Mendoza, a theater performance major at UTEP and ensemble actress in the play. “That’s why it’s also important to showcase this play, so we can be more aware of all this.” 

Elisha Nunez is a staff reporter and may be reached through [email protected]