Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Priscilla Meléndez


In the 1980s, Rita Quintero, a Tarahumara from northern Mexico, was detained in a mental hospital in Larned, Kansas for twelve years because of ignorance and maltreatment from Kansas state officials and health care workers. As a result of their inability and lack of effort to understand her culture, the doctors diagnosed Rita with schizophrenia and forced her to take psychiatric medications. Rita’s case eventually caught national and international attention, especially through the work of the Mexican playwright, Victor Hugo Rascón Banda (1948-2008) who produced the theater piece La mujer que cayó del cielo (2000) to detail the actual events that occurred in Rita’s life from the time that she was detained to her release in 1995. This essay discusses the power of documentary theater in giving a voice to immigrants like Rita, whose histories have been silenced by injustice and ethnocentrism in the United States. Rascón Banda incorporates dialogues between Spanish, English and Rarámuri (spoken by the Tarahumaras) to emphasize the lack of communication between Rita and her oppressors and the paralleled lack of understanding between the audience and the characters at certain points in the play. Thus, this analysis suggests that Rascón Banda plays with Brechtian theater’s de-familiarization element, characterization and the concept of translation to challenge the ethnocentrism in America and convey the effects of alienation experienced by migrants, provoking viewers to take action towards social change.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies.