Saturday, October 20, 2018

¡alebrijes! dia de muertos—Milagro—SE Portland



  Raising Spirits

    This original production, for the Day of the Dead celebrations, is written and directed by Georgina Escobar and is playing at their space, 525 SE Stark St., through November 11th.  For more information, go to their site at www.milagro.org

    All cultures have their own ways of respecting those that have passed on.  Some believe they pass on to a type of Heaven; others hold onto the thought that we will be reincarnated into another life; some feel their presence is always around us, et. al.  The American Halloween is an off-shoot of that, as we disguise ourselves with costumes and masks to fool evil spirits that roam the night.  As a kid, the most potent image I had was the classical piece, “Night on Bald Mountain,” that was animated by Disney in “Fantasia.”  Very scary.

    But now, to this story, presented as an adult fairy tale, and so we begin:  Once Upon a Time…there were three guardian spirits (or, perhaps, Muses, in the artistic vernacular) that were searching for their master, Pedro (Robi Arce), an artist, who was in love with the elusive, Lillian (Yesenia Lopez), who was betrothed to another. 

    But, back to his totems, or spirit guides…they consisted of Florinda (Tara Hershberger), a dedicated duck, whose duty was to keep him grounded; Bartolome (Matthew Sepeda), a crafty cat, a symbol of his mortality; and Felipe (Giovanni Alva), a restless rooster, reminding him that another day will always dawn.  Just one little hitch in their plans—Pedro is trapped in the world between life and death, and Le Muerte (Patrica Alvitez), Death, has her own plans on keeping him in her domain.

    How this all turns out, of course, you’ll have to discover for yourselves when you see it.  But, like all good fairy tales, they lived…hopefully…ever after.  “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”  Passion, Hope, Imagination, Love, Artistry…all important aspects of a well-realized Life.  You notice that Fame and Fortune never appeared in this missive, so take that to heart.

    This is truly an enlightening show, considering the elements going on in our present world situations.  And, although the language and situations may seem different from this fellow’s “gringo” culture, it is good to know there is much to learn about this wide world, in which one should embrace other perspectives.  Or, as my friend, Dave, who came with me to see this show said, “I’m not sure I understand it, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it, anyway  And so say I.
The production is a whirlwind of excitement in song, music, puppets, masks, stylized movement, dance…a magical embrace that goes beyond cultures to reach the heart and soul of the dreamers still left in this chaotic atmosphere.  “There is nothing to fear, but Fear itself.”

    There is many to thank for this imaginative piece, beginning with the director and writer, Escobar, flinging ideas, like stardust, onto an unsuspecting crowd to add to their lives.  The cast is all first-rate, having to be versatile in many mediums but up to the task in all their glory.  Original music by Luis Guerra, scenic design by Emily Wilken, Lighting by Trevor Sargent, costumes by Jessica Bobillot, Props by Sarah Andrews, Puppets by Mindy Escobar-Leanse, et. al., all pros in their fields, who added greatly to the success of this production.
I recommend this show.  

    If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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