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Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Title: Hank Tavera papers
Identifier/Call Number: M1118
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
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
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
"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
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
Mexican American theater
Mexican American theater -- History
Mexican American art -- California.
Mexican American theater -- California
Teatro Campesino (Organization)
Teatro de la Esperanza