Josh Inocéncio’s one man show Purple Eyes. Purple Eyes is the first in a trilogy that looks at Josh’s roots. Under the collective name, Splintered in Three: An American Trilogy, Purple Eyes, The Little Edelweiss: or, An Immigrant’s Fairytale, and Chocolate Gravy and White Jesus are three separate shows that capture many of his cultures. When I walked into the Fresh Arts space to see the show, I did not know what to expect. One person shows are kind of a hard sell for me. And it takes a great story teller to hold my attention for 75 minutes.
For this artist, “The “purple eyes” also imply the ability of the men in my family to queer the world around them despite their hyper-masculine tendencies.” A machismo that has followed his family for ages and this play shows that we can all be more than one thing at the same time. Josh’s multiracial/ethnic multi identity stance in the world reaches so many people with this piece. Because we are all connected to some type of machismo whether we call it sexism, or by any other name.
But the 26 year old actor held attention the entire time because of his commitment to the piece. He did not just use his mouth to tell the stories of his ancestors and elders, but he used his body, props and the crafted scenery to paint a picture for the audience. For instance, when he was telling a story about his father, a Houston cop, who dressed in drag for an undercover stint, Inocéncio was fully committed to the role. He donned heels and “werked it” around the audience space.
His piece was also full of symbols. I thought his use of a blender to represent abortion and Barbie dolls to represent how his uncles would treat their wives like dolls was extremely clever. Although he could have been very literal in his approach, he choose to communicate these events in a different way. The sound of a blender of an intense story about abortion says so much without the actor saying anything.
One part I wanted to hear more about was the part about his family in relation to Black people. Although it was mentioned, I wanted to hear a bit more. But that’s just because of my interests.
What I find interesting about Purple Eyes, it is an ode to his family stories that make him the self-identified “Gay Latino” artist that he is today. It reminds us that our family history always comes with who we are and in a sense we are performing them everyday. Whether we believe it our not. Inocéncio‘s hilarious, honest and ground breaking piece inspires us to write (rewrite) our histories and reclaim our roots. When the show comes to your town go see it live, because it’s amazing how one person can share their story an inspire an entire audience.
A little bit about Josh Inocéncio’s background (from his website): He is a dynamic playwright, performer, and director who focuses on queer and indigenous reclamations within Latina/o and Euro-American cultures. He got his Bachelor’s at Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi in 2012 and he pursued and completed his Master’s degree in Theatre Studies at The Florida State University. During his Master’s thesis journey, Josh bagan working on his solo play Purple Eyes, which was later directed by PhD candidate Jeff Paden. After returning to Houston, Josh began a Purple Eyes tour across Texas. Check out his personal website www.joshinocencio.com and his website for Purple Eyes www.thepurpleeyes.com/about
Juan of Words – Mexican-American Culture – Monday, 9/19
Sweet Life– Food Recipes – Tuesday, 9/20
The Optimistic Heathen – Sharing Our Heritage with the Kids – Wednesday, 9/21
Modern Tejana – How to Live Your Latinidad in Mixed-Race Families – Thursday, 9/22
The Esposa Experience – Navigating the Pressures of Traditional Esposa Expectations – Friday, 9/23
VodkaGirlATX> – Latin-Inspired Cocktails – Monday, 9/26
Momma of Dos – How Mexican I grew up! – Tuesday, 9/27
Family Love in My City – Immigration – Wednesday, 9/28
Creative Meli – Basic and Healthy Latin Cooking – Thursday, 9/29
Mejorando Mi Hogar – Being Latino or Hispanic – Friday, 9/30
Power to Prevail – Body Shame in Latino Culture – Monday, 10/3
Teatrolatinegro – Latin@ Theatre Show in Houston – Tuesday, 10/4
Candypo – Being a Latino Military Spouse – Wednesday, 10/5
Coppelia Marie – Am I a Bad Latina Mom? – Thursday, 10/6
The Restaurant Fanatic – Cocina Latina – Friday, 10/7
Haute in Texas – Mothering Latinas When You’re Not a Latina – Monday, 10/10