Mexico's drug war and its impact on journalists and freedom of the press takes center state at a college theater in Southern California, where an immigrant Mexican journalist is pursuing a master's degree in fine arts.
Marcela Toledo's (pictured) first play "Silenced Screams" will premiere at The Arena Theater of California State University Los Angeles this weekend.
The play is one of four works written and performed by students pursuing masters of fine arts in television, film and theatre, and the culmination of a year-long focus on live theatre as part of CSULA's MFA program. They are presented by the new Recession Theatre Collective, a company created with the purpose of showcasing student plays.
Set in a newsroom somewhere in Mexico City, the play explores what has happened to freedom of expression and the press in the current drug war, in which scores of journalists have been killed for reporting on trafficking and violence since 2000. Two newspaper crime reporters, Libertad and Hermes, feel overwhelmed by the crude reality of their work and are surrounded by the ghosts of slain journalists. Other characters are a drug cartel leader and assassins.
"While my play is still a work in progress, we did it as a full production", says Toledo. The play is about 30 minutes long.
Supervising the theatre play are CSULA professors Meredith Greenburg and Stephen Rothman. Greenburg is a member of the Actors' Equity Association and manager for both the Los Angeles Opera and the Hollywood Bowl. Rothman is a director who has served as founder and artistic leader of the Pasadena Playhouse, artistic director of the Sacramento Theatre Company, and producing director of Pennsylvania Center Stage.
Among the actors performing in Silenced Scream is also another Mexican journalist residing in Southern California, Ivan Villanueva.
Toledo and Villanueva met through the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, to which both of them belong.
Toledo has worked for AOL Latino, El Tiempo and the Santa Maria Times in California's Central Coast, and for Spanish-language newspaper La Estrella in Dallas, Texas. Previously, she also worked for various Mexican newspapers, magazines and radio stations.
She currently leads her own company, Holy Toledo Productions.
Villanueva, who plays the role of a cartel leader, is a freelance journalist and a substitute teacher.
"Silenced Screams" will play at 2 p.m. on April 13 and 20.
The Arena Theater is located in the Music Building of California State University Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, in Los Angeles.
As admission to the play, Toledo is accepting donations of non-perishable food items that will donated to a local shelter.
For more information, please contact Marcela Toledo, RTC media relations, (734) 757-7974, or email@example.com.