I was very excited when I heard that "Hurricane in a Glass" written by Kimberly del Busto was the season opener at the Breath of Fire Latina Theater.
The Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble is located at 310 W. 5th Street, 2nd Floor in Santa Ana, CA. Their Mission Statement is "To support the work and enrich the lives of Latinas in the Visual and Performing Arts".
The play opened on Friday, February 13 and runs thru March 7.
Now, if you know me, you know it takes a lot to get me out of the house on a Friday, the 13th. This play was well worth the trip.
"Hurricane in a Glass" is about three generations of Cuban-American women who are trapped in a Miami nursing home during a howling hurricane. Ofelia, the matriarch, is stricken with Alzheimer's and thinks she is in Cuba; her daughter, Maria Jose attempts to bring her down to earth with round-the-clock care; and young granddaughter, Dolores wants to visit the island she has never seen, wondering if she will still feel Cuban once abuela dies.
This play touched me on so many levels. I felt transported to Cuba with the music and the culture. Carmen Guo plays the abuela, Ofelia, beautifully. Her mannerisms capture the essence of a senior suffering from a heartbreaking disease like Alzheimer's. I worked at a senior community center and the Alzheimer's patients had that far away look that Ms. Guo displays. She is at once beautiful and tragic.
Elsa Martinez Phillips plays the daughter of Ofelia, Maria Jose. Maria is the character that most of us can relate to in caring for a senior family member and the children we are trying to raise. Her exhaustion and contempt for the shell of a mother who is no longer there are equally compelling. You just want to reach out and give her a hug and tell her everything will work out alright. It cannot be easy playing a martyr and yet, one can relate to a care giver who is trying to do everything at once with little to no assistance from society.
Diana Alvarez plays the granddaughter, Dolores. As a young woman, Dolores cannot understand why her abuela needs to be placed in a nursing home. She longs for the abuela she's always known and loved. She longs to be connected to her and believes if she travels to Cuba that she will find the abuela she has lost to Alzheimer's disease. Ms. Alvarez exudes an acting ability beyond her years and I think her training at the University of San Diego served her well. She is an up and coming actress and I look forward to following her career.
I had the pleasure of meeting the playwright, Kimberly del Busto. She flew in from New York for the Opening Night Celebration. Kimberly's beautiful writing transports you from Southern Californi to balmy Miami. But even more than that, her words strike to the very heart of Latinos everywhere and that is familia. Kimberly is a member of Tribeca Performing Arts Center's playwrights in residence group America in Play in NYC, and holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from the University of Georgia.
I also met Barbara Covington who directed the show beautifully. Ms. Covington talked about directing the play and how she was in awe of the three Latina actors and supporting cast who brought this story to life. I was very impressed with her background.
Barbara holds an M.F.A. in theater directing from California State University, Fullerton. She was very down to earth and very excited about the Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble She told me she was the mentor for artistic director, Sara Guerrero, and was thrilled to be a part of this show.
I must also mention the supporting cast members who included Tom Sandoval and Brenda Calvillo. The entire cast was so dedicated to their performances and to their art. I look forward to more from them and I'd like to see them move forward in their respective careers in joining professional organizations such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). We need more talented Latinos such as those featured in this play.
HURRICANE IN A GLASS
February 13 ÔÇô March 7, 2009
Friday & Saturday 8 pm
Sunday 3 pm (March 1 only)
Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble
310 W 5th Street 2nd Floor
Santa Ana, CA
General Admission $15