Raúl Castillo Depicts The American Dream’s Downside In Victor I. Cazares’ Chilling Play

In the eight years since HBO’s “Looking” put him on the map, Raúl Castillo has emerged as considered one of Hollywood’s most buzzed-about character actors. Any doubts about his on-screen charisma have been put to relaxation this summer season by the Apple TV+ dramedy “Cha Cha Real Smooth” and Netflix’s “Hustle,” wherein he introduced emotional texture to roles that might have appeared one-dimensional within the palms of a much less supple performer. He returns to the massive display screen subsequent month in Class Bratton’s semiautobiographical characteristic “The Inspection,” portraying a Marine Corps drill teacher.

Regardless of his marquee worth, Castillo nonetheless considers himself a denizen of the theater. Final month, he returned to the stage after a seven-year absence within the New York Theatre Workshop manufacturing of Victor I. Cazares’ drama, “American (Tele)visions.” He performed Octavio, the strict patriarch of an undocumented Mexican household residing in suburban Texas within the early Nineteen Nineties. Collectively, the household ― which incorporates Octavio’s spouse, Maria (Elia Monte-Brown), closeted homosexual son Alejandro (Clew) and tomboy daughter Erica (Bianca “b” Norwood) ― learns that the pursuit of the American dream comes at an unstated emotional price.

Whereas engaged on “American (Tele)visions,” Cazares ― who’s nonbinary ― got here to view Castillo as a mentor. In flip, Castillo stated the playwright has given him “everything I ever wanted” as a theater artist.

“I’d been saying for a while: ’I don’t think I will ever do a play again because no one’s writing the roles I’m excited about, and nobody needs to see my Stanley Kowalski,” stated Castillo, referring to the position in “A Streetcar Named Desire” made well-known by Marlon Brando. “Victor joked that they wrote my Stanley, which I love. Just to give birth to a new play is a teenage dream come true.”

HuffPost caught up with Castillo and Cazares to talk about “American (Tele)visions” earlier than it concluded its acclaimed New York run final week.

Victor, the characters in “American (Tele)visions” are very consultant of your intersectional identities. How a lot of your personal expertise knowledgeable the play?

Cazares: The present has autobiographical components, however the story is just not autobiographical. I’m a Mexican American particular person and I grew up on the border. I got here out once I was 14 or 15, and my dad and mom didn’t react positively. We have been a spiritual household, so their response was: “Let’s give Victor therapy to stop being gay.”

However even when my dad and mom had issues understanding, accepting and embracing my queer identification, they have been appearing out of what they felt was love. It was nonetheless not nice, nevertheless it was love. I’m blissful to say we now have a superb relationship. The people who we have been 15, 20 years in the past, these dad and mom will not be right here anymore.

Despite the fact that this household’s poor, they nonetheless look good. There’s a sure manner wherein poor Mexicans are depicted, and that was not my lived expertise. If something, now we have to attempt tougher exactly due to our socioeconomic standing.

Raúl Castillo, Clew, Bianca “b” Norwood and Elia Monte-Brown in “American (Tele)visions” at New York Theatre Workshop.

Raúl, what was it in regards to the present ― and particularly, the position of Octavio ― that resonated most with you as an actor?

Castillo: Initially, I believed I used to be going to cross on the play. Then I learn the script and felt that it was completely stunning. I used to be shocked by how transferring it was, and I’d by no means learn something prefer it.

[Director] Rubén Polendo had such a transparent imaginative and prescient when it comes to how he needed to make this play occur, when it comes to how he needed to stage it and the way he needed to conduct the method. Then Victor spoke about their inspiration for the play. These are two Mexican American artists, and I don’t run into Mexican American artists which might be working at this degree usually, to be frank.

I keep in mind considering to myself: “I have to do this play.” There hasn’t been a day within the course of that hasn’t reaffirmed my choice. There’s not an individual on this firm who isn’t working at their high degree and giving it their all.

“American (Tele)visions” was initially set to premiere earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you assume there are themes within the present that land in another way ― extra deeply, even ― due to the two-year delay?

Cazares: Due to the pandemic, we’re popping out of a interval of mourning, of actually intense grief and a distancing that we needed to have with folks. Not having the ability to see your loved ones and pals … that’s each day life for undocumented immigrants. They’re separated from the folks they left again dwelling. In order that isolation that they undergo because of this and that this household within the play suffers is extra legible than it was earlier than.

“The first night we performed the play for an audience, I was terrified. It was an out-of-body experience,” said Castillo, left.
“The first night we performed the play for an audience, I was terrified. It was an out-of-body experience,” stated Castillo, left.

Raúl, the play is being staged shortly earlier than the discharge of your new film, “The Inspection.” As an actor, is it difficult so that you can transfer in between mediums?

Castillo: I really like each mediums for various causes, and it’s thrilling to be again within the theater, [but] the primary evening we carried out the play for an viewers, I used to be terrified. It was an out-of-body expertise as a result of I hadn’t carried out it for thus lengthy. Now, it simply seems like probably the most pure factor. I began in theater, it’s the place I got here up.

I simply bought to see “The Inspection” for the primary time, and I used to be so electrified by Gabrielle Union’s efficiency as a mom who rejects her queer son. As a result of I’m residing on this house [playing] a person who’s actually damaged by the lack of his son, it was heartbreaking to observe. However the movie is gorgeous, and I’m extremely pleased with it. I’m enthusiastic about these two tales coming to life on the similar time.

Victor, what are you most hopeful audiences take away from “American (Tele)visions”?

I would like folks to be modified. I personally go to the theater to course of. I’m going hoping to be modified and transfer to go away with some organ inside me displaced and perhaps in a brand new space of my physique (laughs). And I would like folks to see themselves on this household. Both you see your self, otherwise you’re in a position to go away some trauma.

I’m specializing in simply having this story [and] having extra folks see this undocumented Mexican household. I might like to encourage different Mexican American youngsters to see themselves, to have interaction and to know that their tales are value telling and that individuals wish to see them. We deserve human rights, and a part of that human proper is having our tales instructed.

This interview has been frivolously edited and condensed for readability and size.

"I would love to inspire other Mexican American kids to see themselves, to engage and to know that their stories are worth telling and that people want to see them," playwright Victor I. Cazares said.
“I would love to inspire other Mexican American kids to see themselves, to engage and to know that their stories are worth telling and that people want to see them,” playwright Victor I. Cazares stated.