Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles—Ashland Shakespeare Festival—Ashland, OR

What Price Freedom?

This timely play about Mexican immigrants in Southern California is written by Luis Alfaro and directed by Juliette Carrillo.  It is playing at the Angus Bowmer Theatre in repertory through July 6th.  For more information, go to their site www.osfashland.org or call 1-800-219-8161.

Just around the corner…over the next hill…down the yellow-brick road…Go West, young man!...all oft-used phrases to describe finding that elusive (American) Dream, that will lead to a better life, a better tomorrow, whatever it may be.  Happiness, Freedom , Wealth, Power, et. al. are all elements of those dreams.  But when all is said and done, it really involves being satisfied with who you are.  It is trying to go back to that Innocence and Wonder you had in childhood.  To put it simply, it’s Home.  And home is where the Heart is, coupled with Hope (the lone survivor in Pandora’s Box).

But if you have a mate, children, relatives, friends, etc., that have different ideas of what is, and where to find that ideal state, as in this story’s premise, America, then it can lead to conflict within the home team.  In this case Medea (Sabina Zuniga Varela), when she crosses over to that magic country, with her boyfriend, Jason (Lakin Valdez), their son, Acan (Jahnangel Jimenez) and housekeeper/healer/narrator, Tita (VIVIS), these conflicts will try this family unit to their very core.

Medea can make a modest living, in their rented house in the outskirts of L.A., as a seamstress, and her boy-friend, Jason, as a construction worker getting odd jobs.  Their son, Acan, is having trouble in school because kids are making fun of his looks and accent. There new neighbor, Josefinia (Nancy Rodriguez), a boisterous sort, who has dreams of having her own bakery, is doing her best to have a child in this country and trying to Americanize herself, even changing her name to, Josie.  Their son’s adaptation is learning to speak English, like his father, at all times.  And Tita is busy apply magic and healing remedies from the old ways to ease this transition.

But Medea wishes to still hold onto her heritage because, if you lose that, a part of yourself is lost, too, perhaps dishonoring those who have gone before.  But then, into their lives appears a distorted example of conforming to America’s ways, Armida (Vilma Silva), a transplant herself but now rich, into real estate, and more than willing to teach these newbies how to adapt, and the “cost” of this Freedom for, in America, nothing is “free.”  The way into this country for them had a price, both monetary and emotional, as a border guard (Connor Chaney) exposed them to it, but Armida is an even more vicious instructor.  But Medea is not without her power, too, and the result will change all their lives forever.

More I cannot tell you without giving away story elements you should discover.  But, if you are familiar with the Greek legend of Medea and Jason, then you will have some idea of the riveting climax.  I especially like the set (Christopher Acebo).  The house, precariously perched in mid-air, seemed particularly appropriate with the state of immigrants presently in this country.  Carrillo has chosen her cast well and has allowed plenty of open space for them to play in.  They all seemed to be on the same page with the author as to interpretation.  Varela, VIVIS and Silva were especially powerful in their presentations.

It should be noted that theatres nation-wide have taken a stand, as far as Sanctuaries for people who seek it (OSF being a member).  For more information, go to http://dennissparksreviews.blogspot.com/2017/01/ghostlight-projectportland.html


As for as my own thoughts, Churchill once said, when faced with seemingly overwhelming odds:  “Never give in—Never, never, never, never, never!”  Amen!

I recommend this play but, be aware, it is adult in nature.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Ashland Springs/Hills

These are still my favorite places to stay when attending the Festival.  The Springs location is in the center of town, right next door to OSF and has secured parking for those staying there.  The Hills location is located about three miles South of OSF, and has spacious rooms/suites, a pool and hot tub, as well as a deli now, called Luna, which also has gifts.  Their food is very good, serving breakfast through dinner and even having picnic basket foods if you are up for outings.

Both these locations have their famous, generous breakfasts, included with the price of the room, including bagels, pancakes, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, juices, et. al. and, of course, hot coffee and tea.  Their staff is wonderful and always willing to help with directions, things to do, and any concerns you might have.  I highly recommend these places to stay.  And, as always, if you choose to do so, please tell them Dennis sent you.