Monday, October 24, 2016

El Muerto Vagabundo—Milagro—SE Portland

Candle in the Darkness

This Day of the Dead celebration is written and directed by Georgina Escobar and is playing at their space, 525 SE Stark St. (street parking only, so plan your time accordingly), through November 6th.  For more information, go to the site at or call 503-236-7253.

This is a Hispanic tradition and, in my opinion, a lovely one.  It celebrates lives lived and honors those who have passed on.  As the author puts it, “…what is remembered never dies.”  She has chosen to place her setting under a bridge and camping together with, as the play reports, not homeless people but rather houseless people or, perhaps, hopeless.  In short, it is folks that society has forgotten, or swept under the rug to reside in the underbelly of our civilization.

I admit that being a “gringo,” I’m at a disadvantage in understanding Spanish, and with the names of the characters being in that language, I could only identify a few, so will just have to generalize the character situations.  Also this play is written more as a lyrical essay, consisting of poetry, songs, dance, masks, puppets, drawings, mime, etc. to tell the story.  And it’s impressive in its presentation, in that a writer can conceive so many different ways of expressing thoughts and feelings and be so compelling.

The cast includes Giovanni Alva as El Manotas; Patrica Alvitez as La Catrina; Roberto Arce as El Vagabundo; Juliet Maya Burl as La Llorona; Diego Delascia as The Kid; Carrie Anne Huneycutt as The Pan; Carlos Manzano as El Mundo; Mariel Sierra as The Sister; and Julio César Velázquez as El Jornalero.

The story concerns a boy (Delascia) is search of his father, who was MIA during the war.  He believes that if he creates an altar to honor the dead he will hear from him.  His sister (Sierra), a social worker, is more practical and is just trying to make ends meet.  The boy keeps a miniature radio close to him, assuming his father might communicate through it to him.  In the meantime, he comes upon a conclave of “street” people living under a bridge that feel compelled to tell their stories.

All of the stories are poetic in their renditions.  Some use song or dance, costumes and make-up, silhouettes and sketches, et. al. to express their individual stories.  They often involve violence, PTSD, drugs, alienation, loneliness, but also love, family, friendship, dreams and desires.  In short, a bit of the microcosm of any Nation.  My personal favorite was the Mute (El Mudo, I assume) who through mime, dance and expressions “felt” his way through Life, finding poetry in motion, something that can be lost in only words.  Their tales, a visual feast that rely on a broad canvas to communicate their plight.

This is a production that has everything that encompasses the Arts and certainly is a compliment to the artist, Escobar, that created it but also to the multi-talented cast that performed it.  It is well worth the time to enjoy it and, from one culture to another, a beautiful tradition that could be adopted into any culture, to honor those who have gone before…lest we forget…!

I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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