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"Esperanza" Comes to UC Riverside

Inland Area Gets West Coast Premiere of “Esperanza”

Musical Drama about a Latino Mineworkers Strike in the 1950s based on the Cult Classic movie “Salt of the Earth.”

(February 26, 2003)

The West Coast debut of Esperanza, an inspiring, original musical drama about a mineworker's strike in the American Southwest during the 1950's, will be held 8 p.m. Saturday, March 8 at the historic California Theater of Performing Arts, 562 West 4th Street, San Bernardino.

A second performance is scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at the UC Riverside University Theatre. The performance will be dedicated to the memory of the late Robert Holstein, local activist and attorney whose legacy in the struggle for human rights and just wages is legendary.

The production is a unique collaboration of Sinfonia Mexicana from San Bernardino, Euterpe Opera Theatre based in Pasadena, UC Riverside University Advancement, and the Law Offices of Holstein, Taylor, Unitt and Law. It is sponsored by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society, through a generous grant from the Ford Foundation on Intellectual Diversity and Excellence.

Ruth Charloff, a professor of music at UC Riverside, will direct the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra. David Bishop composed the original music, with a libretto by Carlos Morton, former professor of theater at UC Riverside who is now a faculty member at UC Santa Barbara. Bill Virches is the stage director and Alexandria Smith-Ginter is the stage designer for these productions.

Esperanza recounts an impassioned history of censorship, politics, discrimination and tyranny during a Cold War-era labor dispute in a mining town. In 1951, abused Latino miners were compelled to stand up to the boss because of dangerous and unfair work conditions. As members of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, they voted to strike against a giant mining company. At one point during the strike the miners' wives took the men's place on the picket line. This role switching and their eventual triumph inspired the award winning movie, "Salt of the Earth." It was produced by blacklisted Hollywood artists, and turned into a cult classic among students of labor, feminism, cinema and Chicano history. This exciting musical drama is a powerful portrayal of the struggle for human dignity and social justice - indeed, a poignant part of the American experience.

Ticket prices start at $10 for students; $15 for seniors (and groups); and $20 for general admission. For tickets and information about the San Bernardino performance, call Mary Chavez or Tony Bocanegra at (909) 884-3228, or toll free (866) 687-4284. For the UCR performance please call the UCR Theatre at (909) 787-4331.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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