Hidden Truth & Reality

Melancholia, a play about soldiers' experiences in war, premieres October 7

By Agustin Ruelas
Published on LatinoLA: September 29, 2005

Hidden Truth & Reality

October 7th, 2005 is the World Premiere of Melancholia, a play created by the Latino Theater Company Laboratory. The play will premiere as part of Edgefest 2005 and will also be part of the International Latino Theater Festival of Los Angeles (www.fitla.org). It will run October 7-9, 14-16 and 21-23 @ 9 pm at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Downtown L.A.

The ?Latino Theater Lab? came into being in 2003 and is a collective of 16 artists who worked together to create this play. The Latino Theater Company (www.latinotheater.com) created the Lab and its Artistic Director, Jose Luis Valenzuela guided the collective throughout the process. Now that they have completed the play they are ready to present it to the public.

The play is simply about the current war in Iraq and a soldier, Mario Cruz Gonzalez?s experience. Yet, it is about so much more than that and in order to understand why they chose this topic and why they are doing this now, I asked each of the members of the ?Latino Theater Lab? to give me their individual opinions of what Melancholia is about. What follows is each members? thoughts as well as the reasons why we should all go see this play:

Greg Gastelum (Mario): It is about the hidden truth and reality of what war does to the youth of today.

Sam Golzari (Frank): How one moment, one second in your life can shape who you become and if it is at all possible or if we are ever strong enough to overcome it.

Miguel Caballero (Mario): A soldier who suffers from PTSD. An important piece that is relevant to our times and to our community. It reveals the suffering that families go through when they can?t help their children.

Hugo Medina (Ruben): Shows just how difficult it is for someone who has killed to come to terms with himself. Particularly, when they are forced to kill due to circumstances beyond their control.

Luis Lopez Aldana (Mario): Shit that?s happening right now as we speak! Really young people are inadequately trained for a job, shipped out there and left to finish a task for reasons we don?t understand. More specifically, the question is: What is it that happens when they come back? Can they readjust and return to a normal life?

Cheryl Umana (Lydia): A man, who goes to war, comes back and can?t go on living because he?s already dead inside. He represents all those lost souls that have come back from war.

Aaron Garcia (Augie): A play about ethics, about the reawakening of consciousness and responsibility. It?s the question of what it is that we are responsible for in terms of our actions: Are we only responsible for ourselves or are we responsible for others as well?

Fidel Gomez Jr. (Tar): A generation of young people that are losing their souls through a war that has already proven to be false. What we?re after is the reality that when you dehumanize others, you dehumanize yourself.

Iliana Carter-Ramirez (Doctor): It addresses soldiers? experiences in the war. It talks about the bigger picture instead of letting it be an abstract feeling. The play personalizes it instead of letting people forget what is happening. Soldiers are not to blame and we see that they are pawns that have no control and nothing to gain.

Ray Porras (Mario): A current issue that no one is really talking about. We are providing that awareness by telling the story of not one person, but of many young people going through similar experiences. We want to make people conscious as well as educate them and inspire them about art and politics.

Alexis de la Rocha (Skittles): For people to think about the repercussions of war, to really think about who is fighting in these wars and how these experiences stay with the soldiers throughout their lives. It?s also for people to be clear on what it is that they are fighting for and if it is worth their sanity.

Mina Olivera (Alexis): Basically it is a true story showing what war does to people, how the journey affects them to the point that they don?t fit in anymore when they return. Showing how people are unprepared to deal with situations in which they have to act on instinct and kill another human being.

Eloy Mendez (Emilio): A soldier comes back from duty and finds a war within himself filled with depression, darkness and a number of other issues, which are really the beginning of Melancholia. But, it?s also about raising awareness within the community and to provide a voice for those who might be afraid to speak out or protest this unjust war.

Carmen Corral (Christine): Anyone?s story, especially if they have or have had a son, a brother, a cousin who has been in combat and returned a different person. It is necessary because it is not talked about and more often than not these things are dismissed as another news story rather than a human story. It seems like a bad dream, a nightmare, but it?s the truth.

Alberto Barboza (Director): A soldier who returns from war and cannot readjust. He ends up committing suicide because he realizes that his actions dehumanized him. He also comes to the realization that the spiritual condition of the nation has already accepted the dehumanization of others.

Tonantzin Esparza (Gloria): Soldiers aren?t provided with the tools and skills to the deal with the trauma that comes back with them after experiencing war. It tries to dispel the beliefs in being victorious and coming back a hero. It is also about the happiness a family as well as a community loses when a young person returns damaged from war.

For tickets to their performances visit the Edgefest Official website; www.edgeoftheworld.org. Tickets, $20, will also be available at the door at each performance.

About Agustin Ruelas:
Agustin Ruelas can be reached at sender36@msn.com

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