Friday, October 16, 2015

La Muerte Baila—Milagro—SE Portland

Dead Alive
This remembrance of loved ones who have passed on, is conceived by Rebecca Martínez and written and choreographed in collaboration with the cast, with Martínez as the Director.  It is playing at their space, 525 SE Stark St. (warning, street parking is a problem, so plan you time accordingly), through November 8th.  Please go to their site, or call 503-236-7253, for more information.

When investigating the beginning of the human race, and separation from animals, one of the things scientists look for is whether they bury their dead.  Many tribes of Africa, Native Americans and, of course, the Mexican culture, et. al., have great rituals involving the passing of loved ones.  Writers from Rod Serling to Ray Bradbury, to filmmakers such as Bergman and Woody Allen, et. al. deal with Death.  Even plays, such as Our Town and Spoon River Anthology, have “Death” as one of the main characters.

Outside of possibly Halloween and Veterans & Memorial Days, the Day of the Dead is probably the most recognized celebration of Death or Remembrance.  In this case, La Muerte (Sofia May-Cuxim), enjoys this day, as it takes the responsibility of her charges off her and gives them over to their loved ones.  She sees her job as taking away pain and easing them into the “other world.”  In this case, a newbie, Alejandro (Jonathan Hernandez), seems to cause a glitch in the system, as he has no real memories of his life.

Other inhabitants of this world, his uncle, Don Carlos (Enrique Andrade) and his former teacher, Dona Emilia (Patrica Alvitez), attempt to recall past events for him but it seems to do no good.  Others, such as a Nebraska settler from a couple hundred years ago, Clara (Emma Bridges), and Rosana (Rosa Floyd), share their stories with him to see if that will elicit his memories, and even a couple of musicians, Eleutelia (Sherman Floyd) and Susa (Susan Jacobo), try to cheer him up through song and dance but nothing seems to work.

It seems that to pass through this barrier to the celebration, one must have memories of loved ones left behind.  And, in order for La Muerte to have her day of rest, every effort is made to jog his memory and break through the barrier to loved ones.  I can’t tell you how it all turns out so you’ll have to see for yourself.  But much of the story is told through music and interpretive dance, which are some of the high points of this production.

The cast and director are super in bringing these observations to light and making all of us aware of how precious Life is and that we should treat every moment of it as a gift.  Remembering where we came from and honoring our individual past histories through our ancestors is something that makes us very human.  Also, let no passed hurt or disagreement clog your memories, it only increases negativity for yourself and those around you.  As the song professes, “let it go, let it go.”

I recommend this production.  It is a great insight into a philosophy and a culture.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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