Highway 47


by Kathryn Smith-McGlynn

Who are you? 

An El Pasoan, a Texan, a Soldier, an Expat, a Student, an Immigrant, Chicano, Hispanic, American or Latino? How do you define yourself and who or with what do you identify? These may seem like straightforward questions, but when you actually try to answer them, what do you come up with?

Highway 47 promo photo shoot at Fox Fine Arts at UTEP in El Paso, Texas on Monday, April 21, 2014. (Photo by Laura Bustillos/Frontera Rep ©2014)
Highway 47 promo photo shoot at Fox Fine Arts at UTEP in El Paso, Texas on Monday, April 21, 2014. (Photo by Laura Bustillos/Frontera Rep ©2014)

I remember my first year in El Paso, fresh from the concrete jungle of New York City (which after living in the desert seems greener than I once thought).  One evening while strolling with new friends after a lovely meal, a couple came up to my group asking for directions. They asked if we were from El Paso and I quickly (and probably a little too loudly) said, “NO, I’M FROM NEW YORK CITY.” I still think of myself as a New Yorker and admittedly feel cool just saying it, proud even. But after nearly six years in El Paso, can I still wear that badge of honor? If I stake my claim as an El Pasoan, do I lose my cool card? Maybe saying I’m a Texan is better…or, maybe not depending on how you perceive of Texas. But I must admit that as of late I have become staunchly proud of my newly adopted home and quite protective of El Paso. Our newest slogan “It’s All Good” sums it up quite nicely.

When we think about who we are and where we come from it leads us to a path where we may encounter multiple forks in the road. The stories we can tell about the lives we lead—are these stories ours? Or are we living the lives of a past identity, our mother’s and father’s and generations before us? Are we forging ahead creating our own identities? How much does it cost us to step out of our old skin and into something new? Frontera Rep’s spring production HIGHWAY 47 explores these questions and more. Questions about land and ownership, politics and capitalism, family and friendship.

Think about it–what neighborhood do you live in and how does it define who you are—just what does it say about you? Is there a difference between living in Kern and living in Sunset Heights or possibly the Northeast or East Side versus the West Side versus the Upper Valley or Central? Neighborhoods change, people change, relationships change, identities change, and the list goes on. What is constant? When we are all gone, what will remain?

HIGHWAY 47 opens May 9 at the Philanthropy theatre in Downtown El Paso. Tickets are $15 – $35 and are available at the box office located at 125 Pioneer Plaza. Ticket may also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.fronterarep.org.

Kathryn Smith-McGlynn, MFA, MPA; is Director of the upcoming Frontera Rep production HIGHWAY 47.  She is an El Paso based actress, scholar, writer, Co-Founding Artistic Director/Executive Producer at Frontera Repertory Theatre Company and Visiting Professor at UTEP teaching acting, theatre history and performance studies.