Thirty years ago, in San Francisco at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, Real Women Have Curves by Josefina López was given its world premiere. In 2002, it was adapted into an award-winning film starring America Ferrera, which won the audience award for dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was released worldwide and the play has been given scores of productions across the country. We are thrilled to present the 30th Anniversary production, directed by Diane Rodriguez, former Associate Artistic Director at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles.
The play has lost none of the contemporary relevance it had when it debuted in 1990. It returns to the San Francisco community at a time when immigrants face as much racism and danger as ever. Many immigrants still struggle with the fear of deportation and limited access to employment, which pose a great challenge to really feel as part of the larger community. The skilled women in the garment shop of Real Women Have Curves struggle to make minimum wage making dresses that will sell for hundreds of times what they are paid to make them. They still yearn for more but feel trapped in the sweatshop, doing the only thing they know to make a living.
The play also confronts the evils of “appearance culture” as it dominates and tries to define the self-esteem of these young Latinx women. Taught by local and national media, especially in the stereotype-driven world of Los Angeles, to think of themselves as not measuring up, they struggle against insidious standards of beauty to feel valued in their own skin. Real Women Have Curves was a ground-breaking work of art in this regard, taking on the destructive standards of beauty in our society and challenging the legitimacy of the ubiquitous fashion culture.
Ms. Lopez’s daring and revolutionary play is still relevant in its challenge of the hegemony of patriarchal systems. These women rebel against male dominance in the workforce by striking out on their own, to define both their own value in business and their own definition of beauty. They are pioneers who challenge us still to see through their eyes as they rise up to proclaim their skill and dedication to work, to uphold the value of their bodies and fight for their autonomy to define themselves outside the world of men.
– Artistic Director Bill English