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Mexican Pepper Spray

The prolific Mexican playwright, Emilio Carballido's, "I Too Speak of the Rose", a forceful montage of realistic and dreamlike sequences wrapped around a multi-layered plot, recently had its Washington DC debut at GALA Theatre where it will be performed through February 26th. It is a fine example of his theatrical legacy and one of his most popular works. In as much as it is stylistically and thematically central to his vision and message it is a key component of modern Mexican theatre, studied and performed with frequency across the country.
Carballido's work is known for its soliloquies and asides, its multi-textured plots and its social realism juxtaposed in this play with dreamlike, magical elements. Indeed, an abstract, intellectual form of social realism permeates his writing. "... Rose" is no different. Through the prism of an accidental train wreck the actors explore all the 'alternate facts' created by the event and how various sectors of Mexican society view the tragedy.
    A pair of teenagers, ably played by Sharon Desiree (Toña) and Steven Soto (Paolo), precipitate a tragic train wreck that repeats itself throughout the play followed by various interpretations of the result that highlight the teenager's poverty, insecurity, amorality and/or sexual naiveté. All these interpretations are meant to be a statement about contemporary Mexican reality. Weaved in and out of the play is a Medium performed by Julieta Egurrola, who functions at times as a prophetic witch, Greek chorus, bad omen or vestal virgin. Her soliloquies and asides are at times philosophic, mesmerizing and sometimes downright frightening, especially when combined with the booming, crashing sounds of a train wreck which had audiences bouncing in their seats from the sheer intensity of the decibels, as if the audience were being lambasted with Mexican pepper spray!
    Hugo Medrano has returned to direct what appears to be one of his favorite authors. In as much as the piece clearly tries to explain something about the state of Mexican society and the problems and contradictions that exist there, it can be said that this is a purview of the conditions of our current political reality. Nothing is at it seems and everything can be converted or, more accurately perverted, to whatever viewpoint you wish to consider real.  
    Performed Thursdays through Sundays, click on galatheatre for further details.


Washington, DC – GALA Hispanic Theatre continues its 41st season with the U.S. premiere of the modern Mexican classic of Yo también hablo de la rosa/I Too Speak of the Rose by Emilio Carballido, directed by GALA Producing Artistic Director Hugo Medrano. Yo también hablo de la rosa is performed in Spanish with English surtitles from February 2 through February 26, 2017 at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. The theater is one block from the Columbia Heights metro station on the Green/Yellow lines. Discounted parking is available behind the theater at the Giant Food garage.
In this searing look at poverty and society’s response to it, two poor teens who accidentally derail a train while skipping school become the subject of a media frenzy. As they follow the occurrence, diverse people reveal, with biting humor and wit, their socio-political views on the cause of the incident and provide insight into the complexities of Mexican life in the 1960s. In searching for the truth behind the accident, the author presents a broader view that is sometimes a hilarious political commentary, as well as a new perspective on reality.
“I was drawn,” states director Medrano, “to this play because like so many of Carballido’s plays he combines realistic and symbolic elements in which the ordinary coincides with the extraordinary. Moreover, his examination of unjust structures deeply rooted in Mexican society and history still has great relevance to societies today.”
Playing the role of the medium is Julieta Egurrola, one of Mexico’s leading actors and a member of the Compañía Nacional de Teatro. A stage, film and television star, she has appeared in more than 50  theater productions, including In memoriam, Crímenes del corazón, Querida Lulú, Clotilde en su casa, Tío Vania, and Copenhague. Her film credits include Profundo Carmesí and En el país nada, and her television credits include Mujeres de negro, Los rey, and La Lobo.  Among her Best Actress awards for film are an Ariel Award and the Mayahuel Award, and several Best Actress awards for her theater work, including the Yolanda Guillaumín Award, María Teresa Montoya Best Actress Award, and awards from several associations of Mexican theater critics.
Press Night and Noche de GALA is Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 8 pm, under the gracious patronage of the Ambassador of Mexico Carlos M. Sada. This production is supported in part by the Embassy of Mexico, the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), the Secretaría de Cultura (Mexico), the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), the Fondo Nacional de Cultura y Arte (FONCA), and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Student matinees are on February 9, February 10, February 16 and February 17 at 10:30 am. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Emilio Carballido (1925-2008) was an acclaimed Mexican novelist, playwright and screenwriter. A member of the group of writers known as the Generación de los 50, he wrote more than a hundred plays and scripts, two volumes of short stories, and nine novels.  Other noted writers of the group included Sergio Magaña, Luisa Josefina Hernández, Rosario Castellanos, Jaime Sabines, and Sergio Galindo.
As a playwright his first work was Rosalba y los Llaveros, which premiered at Palacio de Bellas Artes in 1950, directed by well-known poet and stage director Salvador Novo. Subsequent plays included Un pequeño día de ira (1961), which earned him the Casa de las Américas Prize; ¡Silencio pollos pelones, ya les van a echar su maíz! (1963); Te juro Juana que tengo ganas (1965); Yo también hablo de la rosa (1965); Acapulco los lunes (1969); Las cartas de Mozart (1974); and the hit Rosa de dos aromas (1986).
Among his plays adapted for film were Rosalba y los llaveros (1954); Felicidad (1956); La danza que sueña la tortuga (1975); El censo (1977); Orinoco (1984), and Rosa de dos aromas (1989).  In 1972 he received two Ariels, Mexico’s highest film awards, for his screenplay of Alfonso Arau's El Águila descalza. In 2002, he received the Ariel de Oro, a lifetime achievement award for his more than 50 films, including his collaboration on Nazarín (1959) by Luis Buñuel.
In 2007, Carballido and his partner of 20 years, Héctor Herrera, were among the first same sex couples to apply for a civil union following its legalization in Mexico City. Carballido died a year later in Xalapa, Veracruz, and shortly thereafter the Governor of the State of Veracruz ordered a day of mourning and announced that the State Theatre and a state literary prize would be renamed after him.
Yo también hablo de la rosa is directed by Hugo Medrano, GALA’s Founding Producing Artistic Director. He has directed and performed in classical and contemporary plays in Argentina, Spain, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba, New York, Miami, and Washington. Among the more than 120 productions he has
directed are Los empeños de una casa; Yerma; La casa de Bernarda Alba; Amor de Don Perlimplin con Belisa en su jardín; Valor, agravio y mujer; Cervantes: maestro del entremés; La verdad sospechosa, and El rufián Castrucho. Other credits include Doña Rosita la soltera, La zapatera  prodigiosa; Bodas de sangre, Puro Tango, Canto al Perú Negro, El Bola-Cuba’s King of Song, Caribeaña Imperia; Candombe: Tango Negro; and Raíces cubanas. He was nominated for a 2000 Helen Hayes Award for his direction of La dama boba by Lope de Vega, received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his performance in El protagonista, and received the 1994 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his portrayal of Molina in El beso de la mujer araña.
In addition to Julieta Egurrola, the cast includes GALA company members Marta Cartón, Oscar Ceville, Roberto Colmenares, Chema Pineda-Fernández, Jessyka Rodríguez, Lorena Sabogal, and Manolo Santalla, who all appeared in Crónica de una muerte anunciada. Also appearing are Edwin R. Bernal, who also appeared in Crónica de una muerte anunciada; Peter Pereyra, who appeared in Mariela en el desierto; Sharon Desiree, who appeared in GALita’s El mundo es un pañuelo; and Melissa Strova Valencia, who appeared in Volcanes – Cuentos de El Salvador. Making his first appearance at GALA is Steven Soto.
Scenic design is by Daniel Pinha, who last designed Divorciadas, evangélicas y vegetarianas at GALA, and Light design is by Alberto Segarra, who recently designed Fuego Flamenco XII.  Costume Design is by Alicia Tessari, who designed for El desdén con el desdén and Volcanes, and Sound Design is by Neil McFadden, who designed for El Paso Blue at GALA. Properties are by Jessica Cancino.  Tsatami Duciela is Stage Manager. Lena Salins is Production Manager, and Reuben Rosenthal is Technical Director.
Regular tickets are $40 on Thursday evenings and Sundays, and $45 on Friday and Saturday evenings. Senior tickets (65+) are $30, and student and military tickets are $25. Groups (10+) are $22 each. To purchase tickets, call 202-234-7174 or visit www.galatheatre.org. Tickets are also available on Ticketplace and Goldstar.

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