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Fronteras: 'La Flaca Calaca' — Daughter uses one-woman show to honor her mother and heal intergenerational trauma

Rocío Alvarado was only 11 years old when her family moved from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, in 1971.

What ensued after was years of trauma and abuse at the hands of her teachers and family — the effects of which followed Rocío into adulthood in San Antonio.

Rocío’s past was not revealed until three years after she died of cancer in 2015. A yellow spiral notebook found by her family detailed the abuse through words and images.

Rocío’s family has since worked to share her story with others. A 2019 exhibit of her art was curated by her husband.

Rocío’s daughter, Georgette María Messa, recently wrote and produced a one-woman show of her mother’s experience and how it affected their own relationship.

The production, La Flaca Calaca, is an ode to the nickname given to Rocío as a child. It was performed in May 2024 at the Blue Star Arts Complex in San Antonio.

Messa, a San Antonio educator, actor, and writer, said the production explored a journey of healing.

“I felt that there was some reckoning to be done between my mom and I — that there needed to be forgiveness of both parts,” Messa said. “I wanted to explore that in a one-woman show … and dig into the nitty and gritty of our relationship and how intergenerational trauma can begin to cycle in our families.”

Messa encouraged attendees of the show to share their own yellow notebook stories. She said many people resonated with the show’s message and wrote about their own experiences of family and self-worth.

As a new mother, Messa said she hopes the show inspires other families to be honest about their histories.

“When we share our stories and when we are open about our struggles, about our mistakes, the next generation can learn from them,” she said. “My hope is that I can be open with my son and be able to share with him the reality of family and history, and all things (that) are both good and bad.”

View a clip from La Flaca Calaca below:

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1