Friday, November 2, 2018

Irma Herrera: "Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?" NO RATING

Irma Herrera would like us to learn Spanish pronunciation. We agree. But that would presume that Americans (a) care, and are (b) proficient in learning foreign languages, because (c) it matters to them one way or the other. Her show, "Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?" is filled with fascinating pieces of Mexican-American history and plenty of disenchanted bewilderment. For example, what gives a Filipina nun in South Texas the right to disallow her students to speak the language that has been dominant in that part of the world for hundreds of years?

Ms. Herrera is really good with language and dialects, in particular the voice of her mother and relatives, as well as the clueless South Texas authority figures with whom Irma and her brothers are constantly confronted. We loved her definitions of the all-purpose "pinche." And more than that, we are grateful that Ms. Herrera does not dial back her use of Spanish.

In real life offstage, Ms. Herrera is a successful attorney and advocate. She feels her subject deeply. However, the best parts of the show are her personal story; less so are her informational fill-ins. We love to watch her dance the two-step and the twist but we don't need to hear Martin Neimöller's clichéd quote ever again. The story of Mexican-American rights being trampled throughout American history is one we all need to remember, especially now. But, honestly, it seems a bit unfair to expect people who know others named Irma to remember to say "Earrrr-ma." Yes, "Herrera" has a silent H. Those of us who speak Spanish get it, but those who don't are not necessarily disrespecting Mexican-American culture.

This is an important subject. It will be easier to absorb when Ms. Herrera realizes we are all in her corner already. And we all loved to see Sergio Romo again.


The San Francisco Theater Blog has chosen not to rate this show at this time. There are strong moments and some that will become stronger as the run continues. The ending ending.

The bottom line of "Why Would I Mispronounce my Own Name" is respect. As a country, respect appears to be disappearing before our eyes. Performers like Irma Herrera can help us reverse that trend.

Irma Herrera: "Why Would I Mispronounce my Own Name?"
The Marsh
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Thursday and Saturday through Dec. 8

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