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Seeking refuge

¡Bocón! tells the mystical tale of a young boy making a perilous journey to the United States

¡Bocón!, the story of a young boy making a perilous and mystical journey from Central America to LA, is heartbreakingly timely. Photo credit: Screaming Butterflies Productions

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Screaming Butterflies Productions, an independent theater company based in Tacoma, will be putting up a production of Lisa Loomer's mystical, family-friendly fable ¡Bocón! The story concerns a young boy named Miguel, a loquacious storyteller, who gets labeled a bocón (AKA "big mouth"). As Miguel flees an oppressive regime in Central America, he loses his parents and his voice, pressing on to find a new life in Los Angeles. Along the way, he meets La Llorona, the mythical "Weeping Woman" of Latin lore, who joins him on his journey.

The notion of a fable about a Central American refugee heading to the United States to escape the dangers of home is one that obviously is especially resonant in the times in which we're living. ¡Bocón! director Jeanette Sanchez-Izenman expounded a little more on the importance of the show.

"I honestly wish this play were less timely," said Sanchez-Izenman. "It has been on my bucket list of shows to direct and produce since I read it in 2002 in my Theatre for Young Audiences class during my MA work. We, Screaming Butterflies, had this play planned for production as we were putting together concepts for Richard II, which opened last spring. At that time, not many people were sharing the news stories about asylum-seeking parents and children being separated at the border. The numbers were still pretty low, and this administration hadn't felt the pressure to openly discuss what they were doing or that they were doing this as a deterrent. As we opened Richard, it became a bigger story and the battle continues.

"One of the things I love best about theater is that it allows us for a short period of time to stand in someone else's shoes, to be in their story," Sanchez-Izenman continued. "In this play, we get to accompany Miguel on his journey to find his voice and the courage to share his experiences. I am hoping to humanize asylum seekers like Miguel and his family who would much rather stay in their homes if they were not living under the constant threat of violence. ... This play is about that, but I think that the play also does a good job of showing the humanity underneath those who Miguel encounters, those who are keeping voices silent. All of them are struggling to survive in an oppressive system and the ‘bad guys' in this play are having their stories muted as well."

Running from March 30 to April 13, ¡Bocón! will be staged at various different venues around the city, with their first shows being at the First Christian Church. Proceeds from those ticket sales will go to benefit the church's upcoming Youth Art Therapy program, which will help kids deal with trauma. The ensemble cast is made up of Robbie Diaz, Aya Hashiguchi, Marleyne Hernandez, Jazmine Herrington, Ed Medina, and Jackie-Lyn Villa-Cua, with a giant puppet standing in for the role of the Weeping Woman. Tickets and showtimes for ¡Bocón! are slated to go online soon.

Times, ticket links, and more info can be found at and

¡Bocón!, Sunday, March 31, 2 p.m., First Christian Church; Friday-Saturday, April 5-6, 7 p.m., University of Washington Tacoma; Friday, April 12, 7 p.m., Tacoma Youth Theater

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