Over a century ago, one woman inspired a protest that brought attention to the treatment of immigrants here in El Paso, and now her story is being told through an upcoming radio drama produced by the Lustre Theatre.
El Paso transplant, M. E. O’Toole-Pitts, brings to life the story of Carmelita Torres and the El Paso Bath Riots in a production titled ‘NO MÀS’ (No More).
“This historical fiction re-animates a never produced classic radio show presented here for the first time,” Lustre Theatre officials shared. “[However] due to the current quarantine, the Lustre Theatre will only be broadcasting this radio drama, free of charge, on a date to be determined in August.”
NO MÀS, produced by the Lustre Theatre with a grant from MCAD, is a dramatic presentation of Torres’ plight at the Santa Fe International Bridge, where she and others had to file through the newly built El Paso Disinfection Plant with every crossing into the city.
Once there, immigrants would be subjected to an intrusive medical inspection, disinfected, and sterilized with gasoline. Torres refused to comply and, along with 200 other women from Ciudad Juárez, protested by blocking traffic at the bridge for several days.
Upon hearing the story of Carmelita Torres for the first time in 2019, O’Toole became inspired to apply for an artist’s grant from the City of El Paso. She pitched the idea of writing and producing a play based on the 1917 Bath Riots, and was awarded a grant.
“My aim is to bring to light a true story that El Pasoans should have been taught in grade school. But we weren’t,” said O’Toole
Playing the part of Torres, is Celia Aguilar, who shares that she is excited to be a part of such a unique and important project that tells the story.
“Its important to honor this history and reflect on the lessons imparted, Aguilar shared. “I’m honored to portray such a powerful and inspiring woman and hopes this play ignites a fire in the hearts of all who experience it.”