58 thoughts on “Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?

  1. Irma Herrera’s, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? is a gift–literally. This is because it is her generosity as a storyteller that is at its center. She lets us follow her on a deeply personal journey, where she asks a question of herself and shares her answer. At the same time, she artfully weaves into her story its essential social and political context. In doing so, she gives us both windows and mirrors for reexamining our own stories, and perhaps the roles we have played in the stories and experiences of those around us. Even better, her warmth and humor throughout make for an irresistible invitation to look through those windows, and pick up those mirrors.

  2. Thanks so much for all your wonderful and generous reviews. I appreciate knowing how my play has touched you. Please tell your friends about my upcoming show at The SF Marsh on November 15, 2016 (one-night only), and come see it again. I guarantee there will be some tweaks, and the plan is to go bit more high-tech than posters. As I add new vignettes others go away, and it seems that every few days some remarkable new thing happens that works its way into my story. My deepest gratitude for sharing your views about my play with a broader public.

    • This profound, personal exploration of a harsh facet of American life and culture left me at once feeling sad and uplifted. I was sad for the child Irma evoked–a child forced to feel “other” and less worthy in her own hometown and nation. And I was uplifted by her adult tale of perseverance and triumph. Irma’s is a refreshing voice who brings the Latina experience into the hearts of those of us who know it only through the news. I am grateful for her courage, her humor (and yes, there is humor in her story), and her ability to challenge the audience through the power of a very well-crafted story.

  3. Dear White People, Irma’s show is so important for white people to see. It’s an opportunity to hear real experiences of microaggressions and racism on a societal level that people of color tend to be rationally disinclined to share with us in daily life. I am so grateful to the work Irma has put into this show to be vulnerable and joyful but direct and gloriously unapologetic in sharing these important truths that we all need to reckon with. By bringing in humor and joy, this show appeals to our better selves and prompts heart-centered dialogue. Thank you, Irma!

  4. Irma develops and performs poignant stories from her own experience with humor and clear messages, without preaching. I’ve seen her hone and sculpt her one woman play from a smaller, yet powerful presentation, to the multi-faceted production it is today. One of my favorite aspects is how Irma can take you from belly laughs to questions about your own experience of life compared to others. She pulls off something that is rare. Put you in the shoes of the people’s stories she is telling, without a sledgehammer. I would say more of an embrace. I recommend following this evolving artist who clearly is not done yet!!

  5. Irma is a masterful storyteller, vividly creating scenes and situations for the audience, sometimes separated by music or dance or pictures, as she tells her personal story. While Irma creates scenes that feel familiar, like they are from your own memory, Irma helps you, with wit and humor, to see it fresh from her perspective. Like it or not, this show makes you reevaluate your own thoughts, actions, and biases. Irma’s show is highly relevant and topical in today’s political and social climate. The message is clear, and it needs to be heard more than ever today.

  6. What a thought provoking show! Irma’s storytelling is funny, engaging, poignant, and proud – all at the same time! Her stories of growing up in Alice, Texas during a time of profound overt intolerance and segregation are so well told – it is hard not to find yourself in her shoes, transported in time. As the telling of her life journey continues from Texas, to Louisiana, to Indiana, to Washington, and finally California she cleverly weaves into her monologue current events and hysterically funny associations with her name. Run, don’t walk, to see this this show! Irma’s stories as so important NOW!

  7. I loved your show. The political message woven with personal memories and anecdotes brought to me a realization : mispronouncing my own name, which I do (I am French) does not have the same implications than when you mispronounce your name. Thank you for opening my mind.

  8. I so much enjoyed this show. Growing up in a small community where the Mexican-American population was marginalized, I heard many similar anecdotes. Irma does a terrific job highlighting a serious topic in an often funny, but sobering account of her own experiences. I highly recommend!

  9. Irma Herrera has created a show that is funny, wise and entertaining, and is educational without being preachy or tedious. Rather than rail or whine about all those who have mispronounced her name, in a remarkably warm and positive manner she helps you see how important it is to say it correctly and with cultural sensitivity. Seeing her performance is a powerful learning experience that is thoroughly interesting and enjoyable.

  10. What a polished insightful funny sad entertaining instructive and hopeful production! Make America think again and go see this.

  11. Irma’s show is poignant, moving and also entertaining. She captures other people, (and herself at other ages) with a word or a tone that’s like a time capsule. When Irma the 8th grader mispronounced her own name in a tiny voice, I could feel the pain and shame of the moment. When her law professor calmly confirmed the correct pronunciation, I could feel his kindness and respect in that simple act. The story of Irma’s name illustrates the history of the civil rights movement in this country, and as with all good art, does so in moving and subtle ways. Bravo for an affecting and interesting ride from Texas to Indiana to Washington state to San Francisco. We’re so glad you are here.

  12. Brilliant, funny,and important! It’s been fun to see the evolution of this performance over time – it is now fully realized so the sky is the limit for Irma and her messages of respect, tolerance,and inclusion. All of which is delivered in a fresh and clever way.

  13. How many people know that as late as the 1950s and 60s, Mexican American children attended segregated schools in Texas? Irma shares that experience and more in her one-woman show, “Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?” It is immensely entertaining. Part stand up comedy, history lesson, and political commentary, Irma’s show will have you laughing and crying. It’s the perfect antidote to today’s turbulent times.

  14. Irma is brilliant as a playwright, activist, feminist and lawyer. Her performance is bold and unapologetic, just like her name. She intimately shows us a world we might never see otherwise, illustrating scenes with all different sorts of people with different accents and mannerisms. By the end, the audience is empowered by her determination to shine light in a dark place.

  15. Irma vividly and poignantly tells a critical story everyone needs to hear. That she tells it with humor, a little dancing and historical references makes it all the more impactful. I had no idea (and was appalled to learn, but not surprised really) the depth of discrimination in how the GI Bill was applied. Irma demonstrates the importance of storytelling to social change and I hope her show can reach a much much wider audience.

  16. Rather than post after each comment, I want to thank everyone who has shared thier views about my play. That you are touched by my stories means so much to me. These are troubling times and it is important to understand the pernicious effects of bigotry. It hurts all of us – haters and hated — and above all, it hurts our country.

  17. Irma’s brilliant one-woman show combines personal narrative, political commentary, and drama in a tightly constructed and immensely pleasurable performance. She is fantastic: sharp and ironic while staying warm and generous. The stories she tells will shock and surprise and move you, and you’ll come away with a better understanding of who it is that makes up America. I want to see it again! Highly recommended.

  18. Amazing show. Irma manages to make us laugh and be outraged during the same performance while educating the audience about racism past, present and hopefully not future. One image sticks with me – that of Native Americans getting caught in the Arizona anti-latino hysteria. Imagine someone being stopped to prove they are citizens when it is the anglos who took their land. I’ve seen her performance before but she keeps adding new material, new stories and each time it’s fresh, more polished and more relevant and compelling. A must see !

  19. Irma is amazing for so many reasons, and this play is another reason why! This play is relatable to those of us who come from immigrant families. Irma’s writing plus the authenticity and spirit make this play just a delight.

    • This is the inspiration we need!
      Irma Herrera is a powerhouse educator litigator and I am so appreciative of crossing paths at this time in this wild lifetime!

  20. Irma’s stories are warm, authentic, and more important than ever in the social, political climate we live in. I learned so much and I felt validated as an immigrant at the same time. This show is a must see during the SF Fringe. Make it a priority! Run, don’t walk!

  21. Wonderful show!! Racism in life comes out in all forms – overt and insidious – and Irma does a fantastic job of communicating thought-provoking reflections of racism in her life and her communities. Her show has a strong social justice theme made very personal and endearing through real personal accounts. Irma’s energy is infectious and you can’t help laughing along with the absurdities she details while feeling indignant at the underlying injustice that emerges. My favorite part was Irma’s account of her going to college and having an Anglo roommate from Wisconsin who finally helped her “demystify white people” – very relatable and extremely endearing. Fun time – go see it!

  22. Compelling and beautifully rendered! You will laugh-out-loud, cry, and fume! Through real-life experiences, from the mispronunciation of her name to exclusion, segregation, racism, and the questioning of her origins, Irma describes and challenges the “othering” of Americans whose names, phenotypes, or roots do not match the hegemonic view of “real” Americans. Your sense of urgency in achieving social justice for all members of our nation of immigrants will be renewed. Irma’s poignant, heartfelt portrayal is a MUST SEE!

  23. Irma Herrrera’s show is brilliant! Through witty renditions of characters who played such an important role in her journey as a Mexican-American girl in segregated South Texas, to her becoming a civil rights lawyer and working in San Francisco, she’ll keep you in stitches, all the while immersing you in US history and race relations. This is a must-see show leaving you with a lot to think about, and hopeful in our shared humanity. Go see it!

  24. Had the pleasure of seeing “Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name,” Irma Herrera’s terrific one woman show on Sat. Sept 9th at the SF Fringe Festival! Irma gives a heartfelt performance about growing up in Texas and the subtle and not-so-subtle acts of discrimination and micro-aggressions she experienced on her way to becoming a lawyer, journalist and advocate for social justice. The piece takes the audience across time and across the country, from the 19th century Mexican American War to mid-20th century Texas to 1980s San Francisco to last week in DC. At a time when our national leadership has normalized divisiveness and incivility, Irma teaches us how the simple act of pronouncing another’s name correctly is the epitome of respect. Enlightening, moving, and funny. Don’t miss it!

  25. Funny and captivating one woman show creatively and confidently presented. More relevant now than ever. Deals with the subtle (and not so subtle) racism in our every day society. Highly recommended. I’ve seen it twice!

  26. This is a beautiful, loving, and humorous account about an act of disrespect and racism I had not considered before hearing Irma’s story, about the simple pronunciation of someone’s name. This is an important work to see if you care about improving race relations, learning a little about social injustice, and also want to laugh and have fun. Irma has a wonderful spirit and persona on stage and I can’t recommend this show enough.

  27. A moving and humorous combination of personal experience, little known (to me) history of the American West and current politics that can’t help but keep repeating the past, this short play by Irma (say it right — don’t worry, you get to practice during the show!) Herrera is tightly scripted, vividly imagined and warmly presented. I’d like to see a longer, more elaborated version at some point; this was a treat to attend.

    • Thanks so much Brian, for your kind remarks. You can see a slightly expanded version on November 15, 2017 @ 7:30 pm at the SF Marsh. Material may well change as jaw dropping events that affect my story unfold each week.

  28. Attended Irma’s show with my son and daughter on Saturday, September 9th. It was a delight to see her performance. Our family has known Irma for many years as a compassionate, dedicated attorney. I love this lady! My husband suffered the same shameful experiences. Irma gives us a heartfelt thought-provoking message. As one reviewer put it “in a world of increasing hate, Irma gives us a mirror …” time for self-examination. How do we feel about those with strange-sounding names, accents, people of color? Love, tolerance, and respect are seriously lacking these days. Go see Irma’s show – I highly recommend it. BRAVO, IRMA.

    • Thanks so much Marilyn, so moved that all of you were there. We ALL definitely need to check ourselves and be mindful of our own prejudices and judgements about people who are different from us. It’s the only way we’ll overcome the hate and fear. Gracias.

  29. I’ve had the good fortune to watch Irma’s performance evolve over the last couple of years. It started as an entertaining, informative and poignant discussion about the importance of standing up for respectful treatment from those who are far too ready to dismiss us. On Saturday, I was once again entertained and moved by the stories she tells about her experiences from early childhood to college and throughout her illustrious career. This time, however, I also heard a woman who has honed her presentation through the lens of what this country is experiencing beginning with the presidential campaign and on to the utter disaster that has befallen us since January. Irma is now speaking truth to power. Go see her! You’ll come away feeling hopeful that we will overcome the inciivility that confronts us every day.

  30. Irma’s play timely and deeply touching. Her poignant vignettes made me laugh and cry with recognition. Her performance was searing, yet also welcoming and inviting. Rather than try to explain to people how it feels to be a woman of color with an “ethnic” name growing up and now in the Trump era, I think I’ll just tell them to see this play.

  31. An entertaining and timely meditation on racism in America. Irma Herrera uses her own and others’ stories about Anglos’ mispronunciation of Spanish names to convey – on a gut level – the sense of being excluded and devalued in one’s own country. Laugh-out-loud funny one minute and searingly poignant the next. Well crafted and performed. Definitely go see it.

    • Thanks Melissa love your expression “meditation on racism.” Such an apt phrase. Racism is so pernicious and causes all of us so much harm, it corrodes our very spirit. While my play focuses on racial prejudice it asks each of us to meditate on ways in which we judge others by race, class, body size, sexual orientation. All any of us wants is to be our true selves. Appreciate your taking the time to post a review, and for coming to the play.

  32. In today’s environment of deportations, hate speech and white supremacy marches, Irma’s show is a must see. With laugh-out-loud humor and touching poignant stories, Irma recounts experiences from her life requesting nuns, professors and strangers to accept the Spanish pronunciation of her name. She adds texture to her storytelling by including music, dance, visual posters and audience participation. We, came away with a clearer understanding of the historical context of the discrimination and racism experienced in growing up brown. I highly recommend seeing this show.

    • So appreciate your generous review, Bev, so glad you were at my opening show. We often think of racism in black and white terms, but of course, we know it’s broader than that. And other forms of discrimination are also so harmful and corrosive and we must all join together in fighting it.

  33. Had a chance to see this gem at the SF Fringe Festival this weekend, and I had to write a review because I loved it so much. Irma’s one-woman show is hysterical, poignant, witty, and tear-jerking all at once. She has found a creative and profound way to shed a light on some of the systemic issues we have in our society that still effect us today. I have never felt more proud to pronounce my name the way it was intended, and I owe it all to “Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?” Everyone should go see it (that means you!). You will not be disappointed.

  34. Definitely see Irma’s show! I recently saw it at the Fringe Festival but have also followed its evolution over several years. The mix of laugh-out-loud humor skillfully delivered through personal and historical stories engages the audience in her serious message, and entertains. Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? uses wit and intelligence to unveil the harsh reality of racism and injustice in America through the lens of Irma’s own life. Her clever play with regional and ethnic accents in English and Spanish subtly speaks to what language says about who we are, what group(s) we belong to and don’t belong to, and the social judgements triggered by the way we talk. It’s a must-see for everyone.

  35. Poignant andPoignant and moving; turning angst and life experience into humor – Irma’s one-woman show was Laugh Out Loud – the complete package. The audience participation made us a part of her story. Her accents were flawless. Speaking of racism and exclusion to the inclusive SF Fringe crowd is truly preaching to the choir, but to a choir that may not have experienced it viscerally as she has. My husband (the computer science geek) had tears in his eyes for most of her show.

    Her messages are important – on the level of Southern Poverty Law Center – Morris Dees – you would love this show. We thought of Sonja Sotomayor. In a world of increasing hate, Irma gives us a mirror but one we can digest. This is how history should be taught in school. This is how kids could learn tolerance. All that said, it’s pure entertainment.

  36. Go see Irma’s heartfelt, comical, lushly-ethnic one-woman personal journey about our American experience that transcends race, age, geography. She made me LOL, cry, smile, and grimace with her stories that really hit home in today’s reality.

  37. Yes, thiis is MY show, and of course I’d love to see you there. Check out audience reaction from my two most recent performances at SF’s Solo Sundays and in San Antonio, Texas.

  38. I’ve had the opportunity to follow the evolution of this play and the growth of its author/star, Irma Herrera. The messages are powerful and thought-provoking, and the well-placed humor makes it a wonderfully entertaining experience. I know the play will be different each time it’s performed and look forward to every new performance.

  39. Irma’s one-woman play is a wonderful work – daring, humorous, sharp-edged and affirming. Irma Herrera transports her audience to places that are deeply personal and also revisits the distant and more contemporary legal history impacting people of color in the US. Her stories evoke the warmth and comfort of the communities people of color emerge from, and also captures, uncompromisingly, the harshness of their reception by a country which still struggles to accept people of color, immigrants and first generation professionals as full members. Bravo.
    –Robert White, Executive Director, California Minority Counsel Program

  40. A few months ago, I saw Irma Herrera’s show at the Fresno Rogue Festival. It carries a powerful message about exclusion, racism and fear of the “other.” But Irma’s message is not one of despair or anger. Delivered in funny and poignant vignettes, the show is hopeful and uplifting. It’s a message that’s important in these troubled times: can we take a moment to learn another’s name, journey, life? If we do, will we not be more accepting and forgiving. It’s worth a try Irma teaches us. Don’t miss this important work!

  41. Saw Irma Herrera’s one person performance in San Antonio, Texas on July 21, 2017. IT WAS AWESOME. Irma kept the audience engaged throughout the show with humor and wit. She covered points of social injustice from the past that are still present today, in a manner that was interesting and appealing to everyone there. I visited with others after the show and heard only positive comments. I recommend this presentation to everyone regardless of age, gender, background, etc. Additionally, I must say Irma was very creative coming up with this manner to address this subject matter.

  42. I had the chance to see Irma’s show at the Fresno Rogue Festival a few months back. Irma delivers a wallop with a lot of laughter and some poignant moments thrown in. Smart and entertaining, this show provides a glimpse into slices of American history that will be new to some and very recognizable to others and she does it all with a wry smile and a lot of funny stories. You will be thinking about this show long after you see it and it could not be more timely.

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