La Llorona on Stage: Re-visiting Chicana Cultural Paradigms in Josefina López’s Unconquered Spirits


  • Trevor Boffone


This article examines the “bad woman” archetype of La Llorona and how it has been used to destabilize patriarchal discourses in Chicana theatre. Chicana feminist playwrights appropriate, subvert, and transform La Llorona in such a way as to create discourses of resistance, deploying the female body as a tool for cultural upheaval and using theater practice as a weapon of sociopolitical resistance. By presenting versions of these malas mujeres that are created outside of the male gaze, playwright Josefina López offers complex portrayals of rigid cultural paradigms that limit the possibilities of Chicana womanhood. After a brief overview of the Llorona myth as it pertains to Chican@ theater, this article uses Lopez's Unconquered Spirits (1995) to explore how the myth of La Llorona has been performed across time and theater spaces. López’s play demonstrates how body and performance work in unison to reconfigure cultural paradigms, in this case La Llorona, to shape each character’s own re-imagined identities.