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"UNAMUNISMS"

            If for no other reason, you should take in the latest show at GALA Theatre, 'The Old Man, The Youth and the Sea', to witness the tour-de-force performance by Horacio Peña who inhabits the...

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"UNAMUNISMS"

            If for no other reason, you should take in the latest show at GALA Theatre, 'The Old Man, The Youth and the Sea', to witness the tour-de-force performance by Horacio Peña who inhabits the main character of Miguel de Unamuno with authority, grace and charm. The play is a recreation of the 4 month exile in 1924 of the formidable Spanish writer and public figure to the island of Fuerteventura by the Spanish dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

THE OLD MAN, THE YOUTH AND THE SEA

          GALA Hispanic Theatre continues its 43rd season with the world premiere of "El viejo, el joven y el mar" by Irma Correa, which was commissioned by GALA. Directed by 2016 Helen Hayes Award winner José Luis Arellano from Spain, 'El viejo, el joven y el mar' is performed in Spanish with English subtitles from February 7 through March 3, 2019 at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

The Hidden Mexican Legacy of my Father

            I recently returned from a visit to Mexico City (CDMX) for the first time in over 40 years. I'd lived there for an extended period during my adolescence with my father, Jose 'Pepe' Sueiro. My father emigrated to the United States when he was a young man married, and later divorced, my mother whom he had known since childhood in the town of Pontevedra (Spain) where she was from. Born in the seaside village of Sanxenxo, he was a merchant marine when he arrived in New York City and ended up remaining in the country, based in the United States and Latin America for the rest of his life.

            Many years later 'Pepe' became an interpreter for the State Dept. and through his charm and proclivity for languages translated at the White House under President Kennedy. He was also involved in national labor union politics and became known to the AFL-CIO and the union movement. When the Alliance for Progress was launched in the early 60's he was assigned to Mexico as Country Program Director working on social programs that would highlight U.S. solidarity with that nation.

            Among his many activities by far the most important was an affordable housing component that would build over 3,400 units of affordable housing in a building project ultimately titled, 'Unidad Habitacional Kennedy'. It was located in the Jardines Balbuena neighborhood near the airport - at that time on the outskirts of the Mexican capital and now considered a 'close in' neighborhood to city center.

Como agua para chocolate || Like Water for Chocolate

Washington, D.C. – GALA opens its 43rd season with the U.S. premiere of Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate, adapted for the stage by Garbi Losada based on the internationally best-selling novel by Laura Esquivel. Directed by Olga Sánchez, Como agua para chocolate runs September 6 through October 7, 2018 at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010. Parking is available at a discounted rate in the Giant garage on Park Road, NW.
Como agua para chocolate is a story of passion and romance set against the backdrop of the Mexican revolution. Tita, a young woman trapped by a tradition that forbids her to marry Pedro, her true love, finds freedom in cooking so magical it inspires people to laugh, cry, and burn with desire when they feast on her culinary delicacies.
Tita’s struggle to rebel against the expectations imposed by her mother mirrors the national struggle for liberation from the oligarchy during the revolution. This adaptation for the stage captures the pain and tumult of challenging authority, the sensual interaction of the two star-crossed lovers, and the delight of preparing and partaking of recipes handed down through generations.
Como agua para chocolate is performed in Spanish with English surtitles, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. The Noche de GALA and Press Night is Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 8 pm, under the gracious patronage of His Excellency Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States
A post-performance discussion with Chef Pati Jinich, the James Beard Award-winning host of the PBS Television series Pati’s Mexican Table, will be held on Sunday, September 23. Ms. Jinich is the resident chef at The Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC and author of two cookbooks, Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking and Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen.
This production is made possible in part with generous support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Embassy of Mexico, ARRP, and the Mexican Cultural Institute.

A pinch of Kafka & a Twist of Joe Cuba

Think the energy of West Side Story, the language of the Nuyorican poets with a pinch of Kafka and a twist of Joe Cuba and you get an idea of what the new play at GALA Theatre, "Dancing in my Cockroach Killers", is all about. Six young Puerto Ricans, mostly from the Bronx, dance, sing and recite poetry from the heart of the Boricua repertoire.

Dancing in My Cockroach Killers

            Think the energy of West Side Story, the language of the Nuyorican poets with a pinch of Kafka and a twist of Joe Cuba and you get an idea of what the new play at GALA Theatre, "Dancing in my Cockroach Killers", is all about. Six young Puerto Ricans, mostly from the Bronx, dance, sing and recite poetry from the heart of the Boricua repertoire.

            You will find echoes of West Side Story in the heartbreaking poem about domestic abuse sung by Caridad de la Luz and appropriately titled, 'Maria'. There is the flaming beat of 'Madre de Bomba' performed by master percussionist Nicky Laboy and danced to by Yaremis Felix. In between the 6 member cast cavort around the stage to the sounds of Joe Cuba's 'Bang Bang' and whistle the theme of another great Joe Cuba classic, 'El Pito' (I'll Never go Back to Georgia). It's the mixture of movement, poetry and song that moves the evening along at breakneck pace.

            The blend of old and new, sassiness and sadness brought tears at times and goose bumps throughout. Magdalena Gomez, the poet has captured the essence of the 'Nuyorican hood' with passionate, soaring poetry and dramatic backdrops. She is the poet laureate of Bronx Latin, the sorceress of quixotic Boricua quests. Among the most poignant moments was a plea for the 4,625 islanders dead as a result of Hurricane Maria which became a cry for help and respect for Puerto Rico. The entire night was spent as if in one of those dance halls under the 'Bronx El', where sashay skirts and ultra-high heels abound and salsa erupts from 2nd floor clubs with busy dance floors and plenty of shouting and drama!

            Conceived and directed by Rosalba Rolón in collaboration with Pregones Theatre/PRTT in New York City, GALA concludes its 42nd season with this lively musical that will run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm until July 1, 2018. Go see it, you'll have a good time. More information about the show at GALATheatre.org, or by phone at 202-234-7174.

 

            Regular tickets are $45 on Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets for students, military, seniors (65+), and 30 and Under are $30. Additional discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets, call 202-234-7174 or visit www.galatheatre.org.

FOR TICKETS: Call (202) 234-7174, or visit www.galatheatre.org

The Truth Is Like a Piece of Paper in the Wind

GALA Theatre is presenting its most overtly political play in a very long time. Political in as much as it deals with the real life events of three martyrs of modern Dominican Republic history and their battle against the tyrant Rafael Trujillo. The play 'In the Time of the Butterflies' is based on the novel by Julia Alvarez adapted for the theatre by Caridad Svich. It is the story of the three most famous Dominican women in modern history, the Mirabal sisters, brutally assassinated in November of 1960 on the way back from a visit to their jailed husbands. Months later, after more than 30 years in power, the Trujillo dictatorship would fall as the 'caudillo' was murdered in an ambush.

trujillo

            Caridad Svich has made a most faithful adaptation of this very famous material. Not only did Julia Alvarez write the novel in 1994 upon which the play is based, but later it was adapted as a movie with Salma Hayek in the starring role as the mercurial Minerva. In his famous novel, "The Feast of the Goat", Mario Vargas Llosa dedicated a chapter to the events surrounding the Mirabal sisters assassination and Dominicans of all ages know the story as a turning point in the history of their country's struggle against the dictatorship.

            The Svich adaptation attempts to capture and synthesize four different perspectives into this one play making it a bit complicated, albeit fascinating, to follow. A Dominican 'DJ' opens the show as if speaking for the 'pueblo' and the popular beliefs of the time. He pops in every so often during the show as if a rollicking Greek chorus to this Dominican tragedy.

            Scenes of the 3 sisters as young girls highlight the activism of middle sister Minerva (stunningly played by Alina Robert in her first turn on the GALA stage), known for her fiery activism and how these three women of privileged background ended up martyrs to the cause.

            At some point in the play a young female author appears questioning an older Dedé (the 4th sister who did not die in the assassination plot) decades later about all that happened. This portion of the play seems to suggest Julia Alvarez herself researching for her book, making these scenes somewhat of a play within the play.  

            The people, the young sisters, the older sister recounting her past and then a cameo, if you will, of the evil dictator himself (exquisitely performed by the multifaceted Delbis Cardona) complete a whirlwind drama that moves in and out of time and portrays various characters over long periods.

            What most remained for this viewer was the charming, determined and intense portrayal of Minerva by Alina Robert that emphasized the pain and tragedy of the Mirabal sisters. It is Minerva who provokes the radicalization of her two sisters and marries a leader of the resistance. It is Minerva who's relationship to Trujillo is most conflicted (she refuses to bed him) and who suffers the inability to practice law due to Trujillo's prohibition.

            The work is featured at GALA until May 13th Thursdays through Sundays. If you have any interest in this subject go see this remarkable piece of historical drama ably personified and portrayed in GALA's version of the story. Once again GALA has performed an important production with verve and excellence. Check out the details at www.GALA.org and go see this absorbing and excellent theatre piece.  

http://en.galatheatre.org/

Argentine Festival 2018

The Argentine Festival is celebrated this year on Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 3:45 - 10:30 PM at Kenmore Middle School Theater (200 S Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington, Virginia 22204)

    Celebrate 'Festival Argentino' with music, food, tango classes and more fun activities. Sample the best from the North and South of Argentina at our 31st annual Argentine Festival. The Festival, the Embassy of Argentina and Arlington County invite you to taste and experience our popular community festival, this year at Kenmore Middle School. The Festival features the work of international and local performers and craft artists. Don't miss the chance to win a round-trip ticket to Buenos Aires, courtesy of COPA Airlines! Admission include one raffle ticket. Tickets available now at www.festivalargentino.org. For more information, please contact (703) 212-5850 or visit www.festivalargentino.org/artistas-2018. There is free parking and you can take the bus from the Ballston Metro.

 artistas

"Facebook is a Hell for Happy People" Gala's Latest Offering

La Foto: A Selfie Affair is a humorous and entertaining play that touches upon modern themes of technology, privacy, and internet relationships. The selfie, that ubiquitous and vain yet satisfying picture, is the catalyst for a series of events that ends a marriage, drives a daughter to leave her school in shame, and ruins a friendship.

            Laura, performed by the ever fabulous Luz Nicolas, copes with her age and solitude by reconnecting with an old boyfriend. A 48-year-old single mother, Laura courts Denis, played by Carlos Castillo, via Facebook where they reminisce about nostalgic memories before exchanging romantic overtures. A confused or perhaps reckless Denis dithers between his desire to leave his wife Thais, played by Maria Peyramaure, to pursue an exciting relationship with Laura or maintain his devotion to his family.

            The play centers its focus on Laura and Denis, and the fallout from a risqué selfie meant to coax Denis into a decision. As the picture of Laura goes viral and their families react, the play explores the psychological undertones manifested through the use of technology. Laura is driven by a sudden sensitivity about her appearance and her loneliness; she looks for romance online, she changes her wardrobe to look younger and she carefully photo shops her selfies before sending them to interested suitors.

            Denis entertains Laura’s proposition not simply out of romantic idealism but to soothe his insecurities. After Thais asks Denis for a divorce, Denis attempts to explain himself to his son Frank, interpreted by Jose Gonzalez. Denis recounts his efforts to also enhance his physical appearance through weight lifting. He invested enormous time and effort to shape his body and appear powerful and masculine but in the end, succeeds only in growing 'man boobs'.

            Director Abel Lopez employs a dark and nervous humor throughout the play. Mr. Lopez creates tense moments that switch between comedy, drama, and absurdity. During a dramatic argument between Denis and Thais, the 'machista' Denis finally comes clean about his interactions with Laura and her selfies. In an attempt to explain himself, Denis declares that “Facebook es el infierno de los felices.” (Facebook is a hell of happy people) The line garnered nervous laughter from the audience. It was the most poignant moment in the play and one whose spirit was at the core of its message.

            Facebook is indeed a hell for happy people. Denis’ obvious irrationality and denial of any wrongdoing is the uneasy facade through which his profound insight is delivered. The characters in the play embody the psychological affects that are born out of today’s uses of technology. We don’t like how we look so we place filters on our pictures, we’re unhappy with our marriage so we flirt with an old flame on Facebook, we see only the happy, positive, and “good” captured on social media and we compare these experiences to our own, we suppress the yin and obsess over the yang. As a result, we create a distorted reality, one where everyone appears happy but no one feels whole: a hell for happy people.

            Choppy at times, the flow of the play mirrored a typical online experience with short, uneasy, and visually sleek scenes. The set, aligned by tall canvas like panels, reminded me more of a minimalist themed website powered by WordPress than a home, a high-school or a grocery store. Through this lens, the play felt like a series of Instagram videos sliced together into one long “Instastory.” It served as a subtle reminder of the detachment with which we navigate the world. With smartphones a reach away, a serene and melancholic moment is interrupted by an impulse to “snap” a video and share it with the world. We no longer own unique moments but are instead nudged through push notifications to share our experience with the world.

            While the play focused more on the fallout from the selfie, it was these themes of insecurity, mortality, and family, and how these are affected by technology that gave the play meaning. As technology becomes more available and more powerful, we’re reminded of the human sensibilities that give depth to our experiences. Passion, melancholy, and reflection are more important now than ever and yet fall by the wayside as capitalist coders and website designers compete for our attention.

You can find more information or reserve your seats for the show at www.galatheatre.org or by phone at 202-234-7174. Performing now thru February 25th

La Foto / A Selfie Affair

“It’s not the world in your hands...It is you in the hands of the world”  

GALA Hispanic Theatre is proud to present the world premiere of the dark comedy La Foto by Gustavo Ott. Directed by Abel López,, La Foto is performed in Spanish with English surtitles from February 1 through February 25,
    “We are delighted to stage our seventh play by Gustavo Ott,” comments Hugo Medrano, GALA Producing Artistic Director and co-founder. “Full of zany characters who seek to navigate contemporary life and all of its absurdities, Ott’s work reflects on our humanity even as we laugh.”
    La Foto is directed by Abel López, GALA’s Associate Producing Director, who has staged more than 60 productions at GALA, including four other plays by Gustavo Ott.
    In La Foto, two families are changed forever when a provocative selfie goes viral. Who bears responsibility for the consequences and who is the victim in what has become a common occurrence? With biting humor, issues of privacy, relationships, and body image are explored as Ott’s characters deal with mid-life crisis and try to find meaning and emotional connections between generations in an age of social media.  
    Featured in the cast are GALA company Luz Nicolás, who was nominated for a 2016 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for Yerma, and Carlos Castillo, who was nominated for a 2000 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for El burlador de Sevilla. Other GALA company members appearing in the cast are Karen Morales, who was last seen in Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada, and José González, who was in Cervantes: El último Quijote..
    To purchase tickets, call 202-234-7174 or visit www.galatheatre.org.

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