Saturday, February 11, 2017

Swimming While Drowning—Milagro—SE Portland

Home/Heart/Hope

This insightful, two-man play is written by Emilio Rodriguez and directed by Francisco Garcia.  It is playing at their space, 525 SE Stark St., through February 25th (parking is a challenge in this area, as it’s only street parking, so plan your time accordingly).  For more information, go to their site at www.milagro.org or call 503-236-7253.

The title of this play reminds me of my interpretation of swimming as a kid—keeping alive in water!  I was a sinker and never have enjoyed swimming.  But that perception is possibly relevant with this story, too, in that, just because you may be splashing around in water (swimming) doesn’t mean you won’t drown.  Mastering the art of keeping your head above water is no guarantee you won’t eventually sink.

The Arts, as long as I’ve been involved with them (some 40+ years), have always been a safe haven for people, no matter what their culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, et. al.  And especially in these turbulent times, it important to still have that sanctuary  http://dennissparksreviews.blogspot.com/2017/01/ghostlight-projectportland.html    for all that seek it.  This play focuses on LGBT group, as well as homelessness, and the very common human need for love and a place to call home.  It is said that, “home is where the heart is,” and so, the home we may seek, as Dorothy discovered, may be no further than the pulsating within, which is always in reach.

In the case of Angelo (Michel Castillo), who seems to be the narrator of this story, he has possibly run away from a house that may have raised him but in which he had found no love.  He is in a homeless shelter for the LGBT community and has found a refuge in poetry.  In fact, he has created an alternate identity for himself (a sort of super-hero, if you like) that will take charge when the real persona falters.  But, despite it all, there is still a loneliness within that seeks human contact and validation.

Enter Mila (Blake Stone), a street-wise, street-tough, that came also from a family where there was no love, excepting his Tia (Aunt), who read him bedtime stories when he was a child.  Those stories seem to be his rock, his foundation, for a piece of what he would call “home.”  As it is, he finds his connection to warmth in the money he makes from selling himself to others.  His meeting with Angelo is a mixing, at first, of oil and water but, as they begin sharing their stories of pain and dreams of what tomorrow may bring, they form an uneasy alliance.

I really can’t give you too much more detail, as much of the dialogue delves into their pasts, as well as exploring the power of poetry, which is beautiful, to communicate inner feelings.  But the author, Rodriguez, has managed in his story to transcend individual stories and catapult it into the universal need to find love, a place to call home (not just a house), the beauty and healing powers of Art/Poetry and the seeking of our own, individual place/purpose in this Grand Cosmos.  It is not without cause that their names translated mean Angel and Miracle.  And stars may not be just isolated, burning orbs, but loved ones, providing light to find our way Home.

This is a powerful play, as both the author, Rodriguez and director, Garcia, have created a world of immense proportions within the confines of one, small, cluttered room.  It is never boring and the space expands as your imagination opens it up to their possibilities.  The two actors, Castillo and Stone, are excellent!  I couldn’t imagine anyone else in these roles.  They play off each other with such believability that you feel you are in the room with them.  Kudos to all involved!

I highly recommend this play.  There are also some poetry and art events connected with it, which you can check out on their website.  In these “Pensive” times, do not let yourself be “Trumped” by hate and fear (puns, intended).  Tolerance is the key to a better tomorrow.  If you do choose to see this show, please tell them Dennis sent you.