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Latino play explores East L.A. grief

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Alex Freitas, senior theater major; Courtney Clark, freshman theater; and Aaron Avalos, senior history major, perform as the vecinos (neighbors) in “Electricidad” at Dailey Theatre. The play, a contemporary story on the gang culture in East Los Angeles, was written by Luis Alfaro. The production is directed by artist-in-residence Alma Martinez. “Electricidad” will run through Sunday. / photo by Donna Martinez

Alex Freitas, senior theater major; Courtney Clark, freshman theater major; and Aaron Avalos, senior history major, perform as the vecinos (neighbors) in “Electricidad” at Dailey Theatre. The play, a contemporary story on the gang culture in East Los Angeles, was written by Luis Alfaro. The production is directed by artist-in-residence Alma Martinez. “Electricidad” will run through Sunday. / photo by Donna Martinez

Brooke Grasso
Editorial Director
Thandi Ware
Assistant Arts Editor

The theater department explored the struggles of poverty and grief that cholos and cholas face in East Los Angeles in their adaptation of Luis Alfaro’s play “Electricidad.”

The play follows a young chola’s life, played by sophomore broadcasting major Guiliana Gutierrez, and the vengeance of her father’s death, the “warrior and protector” of the neighborhood.

“It is a Hispanic serving institution and I wanted to do something that encompassed Latino themes but using a diverse cast,” artist-in-residence and director Alma Martinez said.

Martinez did the world premier of the play in 2005, so she has experience with the development and readings of the play, and decided to bring it to La Verne.

The play opens with three vecinos (neighbors) played by senior history major Aaron Avalos, freshman theater major Courtney Clark, and senior theater major Alex Freitas, who explain and gossip about the play’s events.

“I think the vecinos really give comedic relief. Their dynamic together is really fun to watch,” senior international business and theater major Alyssa Songco said.

Throughout the play, Electricidad mourns the death of her father and is consoled by her abuela (grandmother), played by freshman anthropology major Zimanei Slocum.

Though she may be old, abuela is a hard-hitting, no nonsense-taking woman.

“Abuela is lit. She’s sexy, she’s a cougar. She’s old but she can still get down,” Slocum said.

The play’s villain, Clemencia, who is portrayed by junior theater major Jessie Bias is Electricidad’s mother and is hated by all because she is believed to have killed her husband, Electricidad’s father.

Bias seems to think differently of her character.

“It can be played off as evil but I’m seeing her as misunderstood,” she said.

Bias thought that she would not be a good fit for her character but is managing to embody Clemencia.

“I didn’t really think I belonged in this play because I’m white. I thought there was not a place for me in this play, but I decided to go for it anyway,” Bias said.

Freshman theater major Courtney Clark, who plays one of the neighbors, also felt that due to her race and social background, she would not quite fit into the character.

“It’s been really exciting for me to envelope myself in a different culture that’s so different from mine,” Clark said. “All of this is nothing I’ve ever experienced so it’s really cool to be apart of something that’s so foreign to me.”

Slocum, on the other hand, feels a connection to the play and its topics.

“I could relate to it because growing up I grew up in Salinas up north and it’s a gang infested town and that’s what this play revolves around,” she said.

Though some of the cast may feel that they do not belong, the cast members are embracing this new culture as if it were their own.

“The play is written for Latino characters but I had non-Latino students audition-a lot,” Martinez said. “That is why the cast is mixed, and it works really well.”

Martinez said that the cast has been very open minded and willing to learn throughout the process.

“It is refreshing because they are saying ‘I want to try this material,’ not like ‘oh my god it’s Latino it’s not for me,’ but rather, ‘I want to embrace it, I want to say these words, I want to learn about applying their culture.’”

The play will run until Sunday, showing at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

On April 29 David Flaten will conduct a discussion on “The 3 Electras,” immediately following the show.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

Thandi Ware can be reached at thandiwe.ware@laverne.edu.

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