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Tavera (Hank) papers
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  • Biography
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  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Hank Tavera papers
    source: Tavera, Hank
    creator: Tavera, Hank
    Identifier/Call Number: M1118
    Physical Description: 12.5 Linear Feet (16 manuscript boxes, 8 flat boxes)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1980-1999
    Abstract: The Hank Tavera Papers include files related to his work as an actor and director, a gay activist, a member of TENAZ (Teatro Nacional de Aztlán), a journalist and editor, and an organizer for the 11th International Chicano Latino Teatro Festival in San Francisco.
    Physical Location: Special Collections materials are stored offsite and must be paged 36 hours in advance.
    Language of Material: Materials in English and Spanish.


    November 2007 by Michelle Morton


    Hank M. Tavera, a performer, director, cultural worker, counselor, and activist in the Chicano and Gay and Lesbian movements, was born in East Los Angeles. He lived in Santa Barbara from 1976 to 1979, then he moved to the Mission District in San Francisco, where he remained until his death in 2000. Tavera performed in Brujerías, Hijos 1 and 2, and La Victima with Teatro de la Esperanza (Santa Barbara) and directed The Leash and Reunion with Teatro Gusto (San Francisco). He also published and edited columns on theater for the newspapers TENAZ Talks Teatro and El Tecolote. Tavera served as chairperson and board member of TENAZ, co-coordinated the 11th International Chicano Latino Teatro Festival, directed the AIDS Theater Festival and the Performing Arts Show of Latino/a GLBT Artists, and served on the California Theater Council. In addition to his theater work, Tavera worked as a high school and community college teacher, a counselor and an AIDS intervention specialist. He founded and directed La Casa Counseling Services, the Third World Counselors Association of California, and the Mission/Southeast Adolescent Day Treatment Center of Children’s Hospital of San Francisco. He was head of Client Services at the San Francisco Aids Foundation and co-chair of the Third World Aids Advisory. Tavera also co-founded LLEGO, Latino/a Lesbian and Gay organization. AGUILAS (Asamblea Gay Unida Impactando Latinos a Superarse) has established a Hank Tavera Community Service Award, and the Mission Cultural Center has an Annual Hank Tavera Performance Show in his honor.
    Tavera was a key participant in the Chicano Theater Movement, a grassroots, guerrilla organization closely associated with the Chicano Movement. In 1965 Luis Valdez left the San Francisco Mime Troup to found Teatro Campesino and work with César Chávez and the United Farm Workers. Made up largely of students and workers, Teatro Campesino drew on the vaudeville and carpas tradition of Hispanic Theater in the United States to dramatize political questions and raise the consciousness of their audiences. Teatro Nacional de Aztlán (TENAZ), a network of theater groups, was founded in 1969 by Teatro Campesino, Teatro de la Esperanza, and Los Mascarones of Mexico. TENAZ aimed to nourish and coordinate the Chicano Theater Movement, sponsoring theater festivals, holding seminars and workshops, and producing a newsletter, TENAZ Talks Teatro. Hundreds of theater companies in the U.S. and Latin American belonged to TENAZ in its heyday. The TENAZ Manifesto, produced during the 4th Chicano Theater Festival in San Jose, California in 1973, articulates its artistic, ideological, and organizational goals:
    "El Teatro Chicano was born of the social struggle of la Raza; given birth by trabajadores who remain trabajadores. Este es un renacimiento: de lo Viejo sale lo Nuevo. Teatro es el espejo y el espíritu del Movimiento. Es el espejo de Tezcatlipoca que ilumina the evil we are surrounded by; es el Espíritu de Quetzalcoatl en que hallamos la bondad y la Esperanza de la Raza. Teatro es la voz de los barrios, de la comunicad, de los de abajo, de los humildes, de los rasquachis."
    "Los Trabajadores del Teatro Nacional de Aztlán are committed to a way of Life/Struggle ayudandole a la gente a entender el porqué de sus problemas sociales individuales and to search for solutions. Que sea nuestro Teatro el arco iris humano: let it create Teatro para toda la palomía—para niños, jóvenes, viejos, mujeres, estudiantes, obreros, campesinos y hasta para los tapados. Debe nutrirse de las raíces culturales de nuestros antepasados para sembrar semillas de liberación en el presente y para cosechar en el futuro la Victoria de nuestros pueblos."
    "La organización de TENAZ, which will work with all oppressed peoples, must develop a humane revolutionary alternative to commercial theater and mass media. It is also necessary that we work and unite with all theaters struggling for liberation donde quiera, particularmente en Latinoamerica. It should serve as a tool in the Life/Struggle of la Raza by developing Teatros as community organizations."
    "El Teatro debe ir al pueblo y no el pueblo al Teatro."
    In the 1970s and 1980s, TENAZ offered seminars, produced publications, provided technical and design assistance, helped with fundraising and touring assistance, coordinated publicity and communication, and organized theater festivals throughout the United States and Mexico. The 1980s saw the professionalization of the Chicano theater movement. Many theater groups set down roots, established repertory theaters and received funding from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation. TENAZ disbanded in the mid-1980s.
    Throughout the 1970s TENAZ was instrumental in the expansion, diversification, and maturation of the Chicano Theater Movement. During the 1974 5th International Chicano Theater Festival in Mexico City, sponsored by TENAZ and the Mexican theater organization CLETA (Centro de Experimentación Libre y Artística), there was a split between groups such as Valdez’s Teatro Campesino focusing on spiritual, mythical, and historical aspects of Chicano identity, and groups that insisted on more immediate material and explicitly political themes. As a result Valdez and Teatro Campesino left TENAZ and Teatro de la Esperanza took up leadership.

    Scope and Contents

    The Hank Tavera Papers include files related to his work as an actor and director, a member of TENAZ, a journalist and editor, and an organizer for the 11th International Chicano Latino Teatro Festival. Formats include correspondence, clippings and newspapers, column drafts, memoranda, minutes, play manuscripts, photos, playbills and programs, subject files on theater groups. It is arranged in four series:
    Series I.
    Tavera Personal Papers
    Series II.
    TENAZ Adminstrative Files
    Series III.
    TENAZ Talks Teatro
    Series IV.
    11th International Chicano Latino Teatro Festivals

    Acquisition Information

    Accession number 2000-064. The papers of Hank Tavera were purchased by Stanford University by the Dept. of Special Collections from Hank Tavera in March, 2000.

    Conditions Governing Use

    While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Theater -- Political aspects
    Street theater
    Mexican Americans
    Chicano theater
    Mexican American theater
    Mexican American theater -- History
    Mexican American art -- California.
    Mexican American theater -- California
    Teatro Gusto
    Teatro Campesino (Organization)
    Teatro de la Esperanza
    Tavera, Hank
    Pomo, Edgar
    Tavera, Hank
    Siguenza, Herbert