I only get to play Manuel: Why I can’t be Macbeth or Richard III?

Cristina Martinez’s reflections about Playing Latinx, a theatre play directed by MarianaMalena Theatre, a Latin American female-led theatre company based in London.

Speaking Spanish in an English-speaking country can often be a unique and humorous experience. The pronunciation of certain words may produce easy laughter, and some familiar places may give the impression that one has a deep understanding of Latinx culture. However behind the surface, there is complexity and nuance in a rich cultural background, often marked by historical wounds and struggles. 

Playing Latinx is a story about a newly arrived South American actor, who quickly realises he is destined to be cast to play exotic characters – gigolo, thug, cleaner with a funny accent. He thinks he gets showbiz: he moves, speaks, and writes as a stereotypical Latinx person is expected to act. But as he learns to play the game with increasing success, he questions if his behaviour is perpetuating the stereotype. Is he losing his true identity?

Guido Garcia Lueches’s excellent play was recognised by OffComm and it combines poetry, stand-up comedy and  Latin music while exploring Latin American identity in the UK creative industries and, on a more personal level, how far he will go to fit in.  

“The storyline is based on poems and questions Guido had about their experience as a migrant actor”, states Mariana and Malena who directed Guido in “Playing Latinx. “Although centred around the entertainment industry, the journey of this play slips into everyday life and trickles through any migration experience. Playing Latinx is an invitation to feel uncomfortable, to allow yourself to be politically incorrect and vulnerable, to question, and to have a laugh. We hope it reflects the ability of the Latinx community to come together and celebrate even in adversity”, shared Mariana with Camden People’s Theatre BlogYou can see the trailer here

As a Latinx creative, I believe it is crucial to have representation in the industry. Having more Latinx representation in creative spaces across London is not only refreshing but also essential. It allows for more authentic and diverse stories to be told, and for Latinx actors to have the opportunity to interpret any character, not just the ones associated with their cultural background.

It is important to break stereotypes and limitations that have been imposed on Latinx actors for too long. It is time for Latinx actors to have the same opportunities as their non-Latinx counterparts and be able to showcase their versatility and range in their performances. I am eager to be part of this moment and contribute to the industry by being a representative of diverse and authentic stories.

Tell me more!

Guido Garcia Lueches is an Uruguayan theatre-maker and poet specialising in devising performance, who focuses on multiculturalism, identity, and the immigrant experience. He has been performing in the UK since 2015 and is the co-founder of the interactive theatre company Say It Again, Sorry? Playing Latinx is his first one-person show. You can find him on Instagram @elguidogarcia doing some interesting roles in OffWestEnd theatre too. 

Playing Latinx was directed by Mariana Malena, an award-winning Latin American female-led theatre company based in London. Founded by Malena Arcucci (Designer/Director) and Mariana Aritstizábal Pardo (Director/Performer) in 2016, it focuses on creating pieces that explore interdisciplinary and horizontal collaboration between artists. Follow @marianamalenatheatre for more updates. 

By Cristina Martinez

First published 30/04/2022 – Last edited 14/02/2023


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