Friday, October 23, 2009

review - De La Locura A La Esperanza

De La Locura A La Esperanza:
From Madness To Hope
Produced by Olin Theater Presenters and Saul Mendez Folkloric Ballet
conceived and directed by William Flores
Los Angeles Theatre Center
through November 1

Seeing this native Salvadoran company of artists present this new work is like visiting an indigenous village in El Salvador and witnessing first hand a pageant that has been lovingly created by a fiercely proud race. It is pure and honest in its simplicity and filled with the emotional excitement and sorrow felt by all cultures. Yes, indeed, the story, told plainly and gracefully by a Mujer (Rocio Enriquez) dressed in white belongs exclusively to la cultura salvadoreña, but will be understood universally.
The play uses a bare stage, a projection screen above it to translate the Spanish narrative to English, 16 dancers, some of whom play various sowers, workers, soldiers and priests, and a young people's choir to recreate the impact of the Civil War that ravaged the countryside and killed 75, 000 men, women and children for a twelve year period from 1980 to 1992. There is the joy of the cosecha or harvest of corn, followed by the onslaught of war. As the women hear the sound of the helicopters hovering above, they try helplessly to flee from the fields. Symbolically a pile of the harvested corn husks in the center of the stage serves as a bed for a barrage of rocks that land on top of them, each rock representing a slaughtered child, some as young as one week old. This entire scene is beautifully choreographed by Saul Mendez: we feel the gentle joy and community of the harvest, the nonstop pain and violence that quickly follow it and the grieving memorial afterward, again with a profound sense of community.
The story must be told. People must accept it in order to move forward. Todos perdieron - everyone lost - but as the chorus sings:
the sea shines,
the garden stays green,
a happy world,
lift your voices
they carry the truth.
Esta es mi historia
Cuál es la suya?
There is nothing earth-shattering or novel in this piece of performance art, but its sheer artistry is breathtaking and cries out to all generations to be seen.
4 out of 5 stars


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