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A recent have a look at ‘La Llorona’ Latin American folktale from We Blissful Few


Who knew a shawl might be so many issues?

Evidently, the administrators of We Blissful Few’s manufacturing of La Llorona do. The quite a few scarves featured within the present are folded, knotted, bundled, and waved in a wide range of methods all through the present. They drape over the units and stand in for weapons. They signify wealth and gender. And sure, in fact, the scarves are additionally an emblem.

Using material, although, is only one instance of the artistic staging on show within the premiere manufacturing of La Llorona, written by native playwright and actor Gabby Wolfe and now acting at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.

Gabby Wolfe in ‘La Lorona.’ Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher.

The story of La Llorona ⁠⁠— which accurately interprets to “the wailing/weeping girl” ⁠— isn’t new. It’s primarily based on an oral story that has been handed down for hundreds of years all through Latin America and is pervasive all through the tradition there. It’s a story informed at bedtime, a warning for youngsters, a ghost story ⁠— I noticed the manufacturing on Halloween, which was becoming. It’s a staple of Spanish-speaking in style tradition however has by no means managed to interrupt by means of American tradition extra broadly.

Wolfe intends to alter that with this manufacturing, no less than on an area scale. Her model of La Llorona was first introduced as a staged studying final 12 months as a part of We Blissful Few’s “Increasing the Canon” initiative, which goals to make clear basic tales and works by minority and non-Western artists.

Manuela Osorio (on violin), Sara Hernandez (on guitar), Luz Nicolas, Gabby Wolfe, and Fabiolla da Silva in ‘La Lorona.’ Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher.

To inform this story, Wolfe has expanded the unique story to a extra fleshed-out narrative. This La Llorona now facilities across the story of Esperanza (performed by Wolfe), a seamstress in a small city in Latin America who’s swept off her toes by Don Hernan (Victor Salinas), the inheritor to the native mining operation who has moved there from Spain. They fall in love rapidly, however variations in school, ethnicity, and gender threaten to tear them aside. The story rapidly turns extra tragic than romantic.

In any case, it is a ghost story, not a love story. That a lot is evident from the start.

Wolfe bookends the story of Esperanza with a present-day battle between mom and daughter. It’s a wise storytelling approach that hyperlinks the folktale of “La Llorona” to the current day, an essential connection to make since audiences listed here are seemingly not conscious of how well-known the story nonetheless is right now all through a lot of Latin America.

Victor Salinas and Gabby Wolfe in ‘La Lorona.’ Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher.

And but, this connection might even have benefitted from deeper exploration. As with every oral story that’s handed down for hundreds of years, there’s an overarching query right here: Why has this story remained pervasive for thus lengthy?

There’s room on this play to discover extra of what “La Llorona” can and might’t inform us about Latin American identification (or extra particular sub-regional identities) right now. In any case, understanding the tales that form cultures helps us perceive these cultures, and I’d have an interest to listen to extra of Wolfe’s perspective on that by means of this play.

Nonetheless, as introduced, La Llorona works nicely for a theatre firm like We Blissful Few, which focuses on stripped-down, imaginative stagings. This manufacturing is not any exception.

The three-person directing group of Rachel Dixon, Esteban Marmolejo-Suarez, and Kerry McGee has utilized a small area to its fullest, turning a tiny blackbox into an intimate thrust stage that provides the manufacturing a gathered-around-a-bonfire really feel, as when you’re seeing a late-night ghost story come to life earlier than your eyes.

Using material solely provides to that, and provides the manufacturing a spooky air. Fabric makes up virtually everything of the haunting surroundings by Megan Holden and versatile costumes ⁠— the ensemble forged switches out scarves to distinguish the handfuls of characters ⁠— by Sabrina Simmons.

Fabiolla da Silva (again) and Gabby Wolfe (entrance) in ‘La Lorona.’ Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher.

The material and scarves additionally efficiently give the present a simultaneous cultural specificity and symbolic universality: Esperanza is each one girl and each girl as her story is handed down from her time to our time.

And therein lies the thematic coronary heart of Wolfe’s work. La Llorona is a ghost story, sure, however the monster we see is haunted simply as a lot as she haunts ⁠— and that feeling will sit with you lengthy after it scares you.

Working Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

La Llorona performs by means of November 19, 2022, at We Blissful Few Productions acting at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop ⁠— 545 seventh Avenue SE, in Washington, DC. For tickets ($25, common admission; $10, ages 17 and youthful), buy them on-line.

COVID Security: Audiences should take a temperature examine upon getting into the venue. All viewers members should stay masked all through the efficiency.

La Llorona by Gabby Wolfe
Directed by Kerry McGee, Rachel Dixon, and Esteban Marmolejo-Suarez

That includes
Gabby Wolfe
Fabiolla da Silva
Sara Hernandez
Luz Nicolas
Cristina Sanchez
Victor Salinas
and Manuela Osorio on violin

Design
Vanessa Losada (producing)
Makenzi Wentela (stage administration)
Stefany Pesta (graphic design)
Rachel Dixon (manufacturing administration)
Jason Aufdem-Brinke (sound design)
Manuela Osorio (sound design)
Megan Holden (set design)
Rose Talbot (prop design)
Sabrina Simmons (costume design)
Alex Berrios (dramaturgy)
Mallory Shear (struggle and intimacy path)
Matty Griffiths (technical path)

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