COCO’S Latinidad: A Minnesota Latinx Radio Show!

Creating Coco’s

An Interview with Silvia Pontaza


Coco’s Latinidad live radio show  will be returning by popular demand this October! Read more about the show from author, Silvia Pontaza! 

Teatro del Pueblo sat down with Silvia Pontaza, the playwright of Coco’s Latinidad, to learn about her inspiration for the show and get a glimpse of her creative process.  


How did you come up with the idea for the show?

“We were trying to find a way to make art accessible to everybody in the Twin Cities. Being that a lot of immigrants face a lot of barriers to go to places to experience art and to connect with communities of artists and go to shows, theatre or music performances, etc. We chose radio because it’s very popular in our community and is very effective since our people listen to the radio at home, in their workplace during the day-to-day activities. It is also a good way to reach as many people as possible through radio waves plus we will go wherever they are whenever they are available. In Latin America radio in general is very popular, and immigrants, especially new immigrants, still listen to radio-novelas, soccer matches and the news through the radio. Coco’s Latinidad aims to promote local art in a way that is fun and entertaining.”


How has Coco’s Latinidad changed from its first shows in March to the latest shows this past June?

“The main concept is still the same: a variety radio show à la Prairie Home Companion. It’s a bilingual experience with a very Minnesota/local Latino air that we hope the audience will identify with. Each episode of Coco’s Latinidad has different stories characters and guests. The June episode happened on Pride weekend, so we where excited to celebrate our true colors.  We had the special performance of one of the most beloved queer artists in the Latinx community, La Coco Villeda in one of the shows.”


Coco’s Latinidad is a bilingual show that switches between English and Spanish. Was writing a script in two languages challenging?

“It was challenging to make it equally entertaining in both languages but the reality is that not all Latinos speak Spanish, plus we want to be accessible to everyone.”


Coco’s Latinidad is a live show, but it is also broadcast on the radio. How did writing for a radio audience change your creative process and what have you learned through this process? 

“If you read the drama, you will notice that it can also be performed on stage, so the creative process of writing a play or a radio drama can be very similar to writing for the stage, except when it is time to put it into action. Creating sound effects and depth in an imaginary space is when it becomes a whole different animal. The process of creating the ambience, the movement of the characters talking, coming and going, etc., all that jumps out of the pages of the script during the rehearsal process. We have learned to try different things, experiment with objects to see how they sound and to add new things to the script to make it more alive and exciting to the listeners, which is our ultimate audience.”


Where do you find inspiration for the characters in your show?

“The inspiration comes from story circles where members of the community tell us stories about themes that are important to them for example family traditions, folktales, having to emigrate to a distant country, etc. The participants in the story circles know that they are contributing with their stories to the show and are excited to participate in the planning process.”


The sketches in Coco’s Latinidad are full of humor and sarcasm, but they often deal with heavy topics such as immigration and linguistic barriers. How do you find a balance between the seriousness of these topics and the comedic nature of the show?

“We are living in a time when it’s s important to find a little humor in order to keep a good outlook of the problems we must talk about. I need humor in order to take things seriously. Humor is a powerful thing to me. Plus you don’t want to go to the theater or listen to the radio to get more depressed, right? But you don’t want to feel that you wasted your time either.”


What are you most excited about for Coco’s next shows coming in October?

“I am excited to blend our traditions of that time of the year, such as Day of the Dead, Día de la Raza, Día de los Santos. Plus we’ll be making a special program of War of the Worlds, which happened on Halloween in the 1930’s.”


DATES: Fri, October 27 & Sat, October 28 7:30pm 



Coco’s Latinidad is a live radio variety drama intended to provide Latino artists and community members an opportunity to create culturally appealing content to showcase their unique voices and talent. This live radio broadcast includes live music, drama, and humorous storytelling as well as a visual art exhibits of local artists. The content will fluctuate between Spanish and English, emphasizing on a bilingual experience.

Silvia has participated in many Teatro del Pueblo productions as an actor, writer, director, and resident teaching artist working with adults and children. She obtained her Theatre degree at Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala City where she also emerged in radio, writing and producing children’s shows. Silvia has written several radio-novelas broadcast in Alabama, Iowa and South Carolina.

Made possible by Puffin Foundation, Ltd., East Side Arts Council, Knight Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and St. Paul STAR Program.