Feb 15, 2019
The Humboldt State University Department of Theatre, Film & Dance presents Adoration of the Old Woman by José Rivera, beginning Friday, March 1.
Savannah Baez as Belen, Irma Gill as Vanessa, Andrea Carillo as Adoracion.Set against the backdrop of Puerto Rico’s struggle with the issue of statehood, the play follows the story of a young woman who speaks no Spanish, as she moves in with her 105-year-old great-grandmother who speaks no English. Both women deal with problems of love—the younger with two new suitors and the older with the ghost of her husband’s mistress. But there is much more to this intriguing play. It is part ghost story, part political debate regarding the future of Puerto Rico, part magical realism. It is both funny and gut-wrenching and it may ask more questions than it answers.
Playwright José Rivera was born in Puerto Rico in 1955 and moved to New York City with his family when he was four years old. His parents were very religious and he grew up in a household whose only book was the Bible. His family enjoyed telling stories and he learned a lot by hearing these stories. He has written over 30 plays. His work has been produced across the country and around the world. Rivera has won two Obie Awards for playwriting, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American plays Grant, and a Fulbright Arts Fellowship in playwriting, among other awards. He was the first Puerto Rican writer to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2005 for The Motorcycle Diaries.
The production is directed by Robi Arce. Arce holds an MFA in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte International and a BA in Drama from the University of Puerto Rico. With more than 15 years of experience, Robi has performed, toured, and led workshops in México, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and several cities in the U.S. He taught theatre in the Colegio Bautista de Caguas at a high school level for four years. Arce lives in Portland where he works as a director, actor and mask maker, while functioning as a teaching artist for Hand2Mouth Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, and Latino Network.
Arce finds the play to be an accurate and provocative way to present the complex political status of Puerto Rico.
“I believe in doing theatre that is meaningful and as a Puerto Rican living in the diaspora, this play deeply resonated with me,” he says. “After finding myself with tears coming down my cheeks at the end of the reading, I’ve realized that I wanted to direct this play and that it was important to stage this story. The play has brush strokes of themes like self-determination, family division, chains from the past, and the woman’s role in contrast with male figures in history. I believe it is a great play to start a conversation about the current and perennial situation of Puerto Rico.”
The production features a diverse cast of five HSU students. Scenic design is by Grady Moore, costume design by Rae Robison, lighting design by Micah Sheff, properties design by Holly Robertson, and make-up design by Kimberly Vazquez. The production will be stage-managed by Robert Williams.
Adoration of the Old Woman opens Friday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Gist Hall Theatre on campus. The run continues March 2, 7, 8, 9 at 7:30 p.m. There will be one matinee performance beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 10. General admission is $10. Students and seniors are $8. The play contains adult language and content and is not intended for children. Lot parking is free on weekends. For tickets, please call 707-826-3928 or go online to Center Arts. For more information, call 707-826-3566.