Barrio Stories is a celebration of the history and heritage of Tucson’s historic Mexican-American neighborhoods. Conceived by Borderlands Theater in 2015, the project is an ongoing site-specific series intended to preserve and reflect the stories, people, and places that made these barrios so vital to the cultural fabric of the Southwest. Barrios Viejo (also known as “La Calle”) and Anita became the primary subjects of the Borderlands Theater project, each taking on a different process and presentation.  

From Oral History to Theater

The Barrio Stories Project was born out of an impulse to honor and celebrate Tucson’s historic Mexican American Barrios. Barrio Stories in Barrio Anita was deeply embedded in the neighborhood, driven by professional artists working alongside current and former residents. Artists met weekly with residents to assess community needs to create an experience reflective of the neighborhood.

The culmination of this research built into a two-night celebration that encompassed large-scale video projections, live spoken word poetry, Mariachi music, shadow theater, and baile folklorico. Other attractions included a resource fair and various activities to engage Barrio Anita residents in fostering community and barrio preservation.

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Audio Talk-backs: Reflections on Barrio Stories by Audience Members

Memories Come to Life

Over a dozen current and former residents of Barrio Anita were interviewed, recounting memories of growing up in the neighborhood. Themes of Loss, Celebration, Adversity, Food, Family, and the Ways of the Barrio emerged, heavily shaping the Borderlands production. Residents were interviewed on video. The video oral histories and community memories made up a large part of the event.

View the Stories Here