Mary Reid (1895-the 1980s)
The thriving US Hispanic theatre scene built by earlier worker labor and cultural associations was one of the overlapping and underpinning networks of US worker antifascism.[i] Thanks to this earlier legacy, SHC antifascist theater was highly successful in community building and fundraising.
Mary Reid was crucial to the success of the SHC stage thanks to her stardom in US Hispanic theatre.[ii] In 1936, Reid became a member of the SHC Committee de Fiestas (Fundraisers Committee) and was a generous donor for the publication of the SHC periodicals throughout their existence. Over the years, Reid directed 27 SHC plays, co-directed 2, was the Master of Ceremonies of 7 fundraisers, wrote one original play, and performed as an actress in 46 (See appendix 1 for more information).
Beyond mutual aid, antifascist plays, performed in workers' and migrants’ diverse political, social, and cultural associations, preserved proletarian culture, another goal of workers’ efforts. The antifascist and género chico plays that Reid supported functioned as catalysts for political consciousness. Their comedy and farce ridiculed fascist myths of power and perfection while avoiding another dogmatic movement that reproduced fascistic worldviews.
[i] See Nicolas Kanellos and Janet L. Sturman on US Hispanic theatre and Reid’s stardom in the 1920s and 1930s.
[ii] From Gibraltar, Spain, Reid formed her own company, Compañía Marita Reid, and played in mutual aid societies of Spaniards, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans, including the Ateneo Hispano Before the Spanish Civil War. She performed in various genres, from drama to the zarzuela. Reid made her New York stage debut with La Compañía de Teatro Español (Spanish Theater Company). In the 1950s and 1960s, Reid performed in some English-language plays on Broadway and television. She also participated in the movie Crowded Paradise, produced in Puerto Rico. Reid also mentored other Latina performers, such as Tina Ramirez, director of Ballet Hispánico.
[iii] For a complete list of performers, see Feu, Fighting Fascist Spain (2020).
[iv] Quotes have been translated by Montse Feu.