Beatriz Escalona
"La Chata Noloesca"

(1903-1979)

Pioneer of Mexicana women in theater

Fronterizas

THEME

Arte y Corazon

THEME

Beatriz Escalona Pérez, also known as “Noloesca” or “La Chata,” was a comedienne who toured throughout the United States and Mexico. She was a talented performer and manager. She created and sustained her own company for over two decades, and in 1975 she was honored by the Mexican National Association of Actors in San Antonio.


Pérez was born in San Antonio, Texas, on August 20, 1903, the daughter of Escalona and Simona Pérez, both originally from Galeana, Nuevo León, Mexico. She was raised in San Antonio but spent much of her childhood in Monterrey, Nuevo León. In San Antonio she worked part-time as an usher and in the box office at the Teatro Zaragoza and Teatro Nacional. While working at the Nacional, she met a Cuban-born performer, José Areu, who was a member of the variety company Los Hermanos Areu. Beatriz left San Antonio to travel with his company and studied singing and acting with the Areus. She made her first performance at the Teatro Colón in El Paso at the age of eighteen. At this point, she took the stage name Noloesca, an anagram of her last name. She married Areu, and had a child, Belia (who later also became a successful performer), in Mexico City on October 31, 1921.


Noloesca toured throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States with Los Hermanos Areu. She performed in a variety of popular genres: risqué bataclán numbers (similar to burlesque), dramatic plays and comic sketches, and traditional and humorous Mexican songs.


In 1930 she left the company, ended her marriage, and formed her own variety company, Atracciones Noloesca. For the next six years she managed and acted with her company and periodically contracted to perform with other companies. Noloesca met and married her second husband, José de la Torre, in Tijuana. De la Torre became her comic partner. In 1936 she returned to San Antonio, where she performed at the Teatro Nacional.

"As an influential performance artist whose career spanned many generations, La Chata Noloesca broke many barriers. She... went on not only to establish her own company, but also to become the most visible female representative of Mexican American theater."
"With her artistic sensibility and powerful sense of freedom, she succeeded innovatively in a male-dominated field where women have usually been absent or marginalized."

— Arrizón, Alicia. Latina Performance : Traversing the Stage. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999

 

"First she performed at El Nacional, she stayed there two years, then she came to El Zaragoza for another year. My mother would get people from Mexico City to San Antonio and a lot of people from here that had talent she would help, like Eva Garza, that used to sing very beautiful."

— Belia Camargo, daughter of Beatrice Noloesca, oral history, 1986, San Antonio Conservation Society