Guest Speaker to Explore Ethnicity and Representation in “West Side Story”

Posted on 4/26/2017 9:28:34 AM

Artist and scholar Maria Enriquez will be a guest of the Hispanic Heritage Council on Monday, May 1, 2017, as they host a viewing and discussion of West Side Story at 5:00 p.m. in Stephenson Hall, room G-41. The iconic film presents an ideal exploration on the politics of race, ethnicity, and representation. This free event is open to the entire IUP community, and attendance vouchers will be available.

West Side Story event posterWest Side Story premiered on Broadway in 1957 and became a hit movie in 1961. However, scholars have heavily criticized the film and musical for their depictions of Latina/o culture and identity. The image of the Puerto Rican gang members, the pitting of dark-skinned “foreign” Sharks against the light-skinned all-American Jets, and the casting of Natalie Wood in the role of Maria are problematic examples of performance and erasure of Latinas/os.

Maria Enriquez is a faculty member at Penn State Harrisburg and a doctoral candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. She has acted and directed at regional theaters across the country and served as an artistic associate with Teatro Luna, a Chicago-based Pan-Latina theater company. As a scholar, her research interests include contemporary US Latina/o theater, Critical Race Theory, and Performance and Cultural Studies. She has presented at multiple theater conferences, and IUP is pleased to host her here for this event. 

For further information, please contact Marjorie Zambrano-Paff, chair of the Hispanic Heritage Council, at

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