When I was a kid, my uncle used to tell my siblings and I bedtime stories. I guess he was a terrible uncle, because almost all of his stories had monsters in them. But I didn’t care; I loved going to bed scared of the night, thinking that beasts roamed the forest just outside my window.
My family had a farmhouse in the south of Chile, surrounded by mountains and rainy forest. Its isolation made it perfect for a good-old night storytelling around the bonfire. It was a tradition. Being from Chile, most of the stories my uncle told us were folklore-heavy; La Llorona, El Caleuche, El Trauco, and my all-time favorite, El Chupacabra. The first time I heard about the Chupacabra I was about 9-years-old. I woke up that day in the middle of a discussion between my grandfather and my uncle: two sheep had appeared dead that morning, and they were trying to find out what had happened to them. I’m sure there was a rational explanation behind the accident, but as soon night fell that day, my uncle started hinting to the children that the Chupacabra was the responsible.
“The Chupa-what?” I asked him.
“Chupacabra,” said my uncle. “It attacks during the night, after all the adults have gone to bed. But I’ve seen it. It has sharp claws, blood-red eyes, and pointy teeth. It preys on animals, but sometimes, when it is feeling really hungry, it likes to feed on children. So you better watch out.”
Of course nothing happened that night, or the following nights, but all the children were scared of it anyway. I even had nightmares about the reptile-like creature, with its hairy arms and legs, and its long tail.
After the incident with the sheep, every time I went back to my family’s farmhouse for vacations, my uncle would remind us about the Chupacabra. As we grew up, the Chupacabra became just a myth, and part of our family tales.
When I heard ArtsEmerson was bringing The Wong Kids in The Secret of The Space Chupacabra GO! I got SO excited! I wanted to share my stories with my co-workers, but almost none of them knew what a Chupacabra was. That is why I felt it was important to share my story, and what I know about the Chupacabra from having grown up hearing about it.
The word Chupacabra literally means “goat-sucker” in Spanish. It is part of Chile’s mythological tales, but really every country in the Americas has its own version of the Chupacabra. Because of that, it has been allegedly seen from the south of Chile to the north of Maine, in the U.S. Its first reported attack dates back to March 1995, in the town of Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. In that attack, eight sheep were found dead, completely drained of blood, with three mysterious puncture wounds on their chests. A vampire, you say? Nay, the Chupacabra!
But in The Wong Kids in The Secret of The Space Chupacabra GO! however, Lloyd Suh takes the myth of the Chupacabra to a whole new level—all the way to space! He reinvents the Chupacabra and puts it into context with today’s popular culture. Do you want to see how the Wong Kids are going to prevent this Planet-sucking beast to destroy our beloved earth? Well, then you have to come and see the play! The Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chupacabra GO! will be in Paramount Theatre from February 20 to March 6, and you can’t miss it.