Celsa and the roots that make testimonies visible

Marta Eugenia Chávez delved into the depths of her family tree and traced those grooves that form inside the trunk over the years. In front of her appeared the story of Celsa Caballero, her paternal great-grandmother, who was murdered in Jiménez, Chihuahua, by Francisco Villa, when he set her on fire by not revealing the whereabouts of her daughter.

The story prompted him to put on a play through his company En el Surco. The project was conceived during the pandemic and managed with resources from the Support System for Creation and Cultural Projectsmanaged to be selected for the Coahuila State Theater Show 2022a contest where he won and got his right to participate in the 42nd National Theater Show that is currently taking place in Torreón.


It is Saturday afternoon and those attending the play are grouped outside the Quarry House. It’s four o’clock and the show’s staff invites you to form four lines. Photographs are delivered with a phrase printed on the back. “Why is it that the act of remembering is like rekindling the fire?”. The actors leave the house, they wear black clothes.

The actor mace medina He guides the first group, introduces them to this house where its owners once hid Chinese migrants from the harassment of Maderista troops. Attendees climb the stairs to the second floor, then a narrower stairway to the roof, where a sound system emits a chorus of testimonies.

The voices correspond to the participants in the play, they share their experiences. Some speak of the pandemic period where they were introduced to the project, naming loved ones who died during the contingency. They also speak of their own search, of discovery in experiences.

On a couple of occasions, Mace Medina pulls out a box of matches and lights one. She lets the match burn out, let the flame touch her fingers until the skin kisses the flame. The match and the fire will be key symbolism in the almost two hours that this staging lasts.

The group is invited to go down. The second station resides in the hallway on the second floor. The actress Mafer Martinez is his manager, who begins to talk about his family roots, the environment where he grew up near the Pancho Villa hill, in Gómez Palacio, the gastronomy and traditions of La Laguna.

The work is interactive, it requests the participation of the public and its stage moves through the rooms of the building. In the Mafer station there is a projector, there are also newspapers, a small wrestling ring and a large aluminum tub. The objects are related to her personal testimony, because just as Martha Eugenia Chávez investigated her family history, the actors do the same from their perspective.

The actress also turns to the symbolism of the match and its flame. She does this several times, but on the last occasion, after sharing the story of a murdered woman, she blows on the match and extinguishes its flame. “Not one more”, he warns. It’s time to change the season.

The penultimate stop is led by the young actor Ivan Losa, who also takes a trip through his family’s past. She talks about his grandfather, about his ancestors and the relationship that, through the local gastronomy, they had with the Mexican Revolution.


The memory is a constant, but in its journey it stops a bit and names the case of Celsa Knightthe woman who was burned by Francisco Villa. He comments that his grandfather, a strong follower of the Centaur of the North, does not believe that his general did it, he considers that it was rather Rodolfo Fierro, one of his thugs. In that, the grooves of a vinyl come to life to reproduce the Corrido Villista.

At the last station awaits Martha Eugenia Chavez, the architect of this project, who narrates the story of Celsa, how he came to her thanks to a Facebook post and how part of his family has decided to keep quiet about his murder for years. The reflection is linked to the disappearances and femicides that are not made visible and are kept in the deepest silence. At the end, the actors take the attendees out of the venue and lead them to the Alameda Zaragoza. They stop at the Memorial of the Disappeared in Coahuila. There are no instructions, but the attendees immediately begin to read the names of those who have not returned.

Celsa, a play directed by Martha Eugenia Chavez and assembled by the lagoon company En el Surco, It will have a second function this Sunday, November 13, at 4:00 p.m., in the same facilities as Casa de Cantera (Juarez Avenue, corner with Calzada Colón).

Celsa and the roots that make testimonies visible