‘Guac: My Son, My Hero’: Parkland Dad’s Tribute to Son Hitting Miami Beach Stage

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He calls it “artivism,” a blend of art and activism.

Manuel Oliver lost his 17-year-old son, Joaquin, in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Ever since, he has used his background as an artist to advocate for gun safety reforms. Now Oliver is hitting the stage at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach with a one-man show, which is both a tribute to his son and a cry for understanding.

“Once you see it, it might make you think that it could be your kid, and it might make you think that you could be me,” Oliver said.

The show’s title, “Guac: My Son, My Hero” refers to Joaquin’s nickname and the impact telling his life story could have on gun safety laws. That’s the “hero” part.

Parkland Father Launches Tour of Show Inspired by Son

“This is about saving lives, this is about knowing who has the guns, I’m not gonna take your gun away, I don’t want your gun, but I want to make sure that your gun is in safe hands and it’s not gonna hurt anyone, that’s the goal here,” Oliver explained, saying only public pressure can change society when it comes to gun policy because politicians, he says, cannot be relied upon.

“They love to mention what needs to be done but they don’t do anything,” said Oliver.

We spoke to him on the stage and watched Oliver rehearse the show, which he says is different from the art installations he’s done in 31 cities.

“Now I know how to send a message in a more effective way, I always believe in impacting people, not convincing people,” Oliver said.

To call this a labor of love would be a huge understatement; for Manuel Oliver, doing this show is a way of keeping his son by his side, close to him.

“This is my thing, this is what makes me feel that I still have hope in my life, it’s bringing us together,” Oliver said. “I’ll never say Joaquin is dead, and is not anymore with me, Joaquin is doing a lot.”

The show is more than a monologue. It’s a multi-media presentation of Joaquin Oliver’s short life, his tragic murder, and the hole his death has left in a family.

Like all the Parkland victims, Oliver’s pain will never go away. He says he lost his best friend, and doing this show is not only cathartic, it’s a quest to find meaning.

“What happened to Joaquin will never be explained in a way that I will get it, but maybe Joaquin went through that for us, to do what we do today,” Oliver said.

After Miami Beach, the show will play in New York City, and eventually, tour the nation.

“Guac, My Son, My Hero” is playing one night only, Friday night, September 20, at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach. Tickets are still available at www.guacmysonmyhero.com. All proceeds go to the Change the Ref Foundation.

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