Wednesday, December 16, 2009

La Posada Magica by Octavio Solis

by Joe Straw

From the moment the musicians, Marcos Loya and Lorenzo Martinez, step onto the stage there is a quiet calmness; a notion to keep your emotional distressed life outside on Sepulveda in the cold and bitter air. This is a time for celebration: for those warm and fuzzy feelings to creep back into your essence. As Loya softly tickles the strings on his acoustical guitar, Martinez holds his guitarron gently like an old friend and plucks the base instrument defiantly, soothingly, and with a purpose.

The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, through December 24, 2009, presents a heart rendering La Posada Magica written by Octavio Solis and directed by Diane Rodriguez.

The feelings from Christmas past are the mind’s willingness to let go of heartbreaking memories. And Gracie’s (Gloria Garayus) soul is troubled. She fights the memories of losing her baby brother: an episode in her life that weighs heavily on her this Christmas season. Her parents Papi (Richard Soto) and Mom (Crissy Guerrero) sorrowfully have decided to move on with their lives. They leave Gracie this night to sort out her problems but ask her for a favor: to donate a sack of clothes to the members of La Posada.

In her bedroom contemplating the emptiness she feels without her brother she answers the door.

It is the La Posada holding lit candles. They sing with jubilation begging Gracie to join them in mirth. Gracie is not amused and asks them to leave.

Horacio (Benito Martinez) is the leader of this group and he is not content of having any sadness on this joyous walk. Eli the co-coordinator (Richard Azurdia) corrals the remaining walkers into a cohesive group with Consuelo (Denise Blasor), Rufugio (Sol Castillo), and Caridad (Carla Jimenez) in tow.

The symbolism of Mary and Joseph, a pregnant Mariluz (Crissy Guerrero) and her husband Jose Cruz (Richard Soto), is not lost here.

Mariluz suddenly feels faint and Gracie instinctively pulls a baby blanket from her bag. Gracie is heartbroken by this moment. She takes away the blanket, holds it next to her cheek, breaths it, and gently puts it back in the bag.

Not deterred, by the sudden change in mood, the group manages to have Gracie joins them in their quest to find Mary and Joseph a place to stay.

But something happens along the way and they are separated by the night. Gracie is confronted with images that haunt her whether it is a vision or real life remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it is a bad element of La Posada, ghosts whose sacks are filled with bad thoughts. Flashes of death and destruction are a part of their being. They are technically the ghosts of Christmas past and they present Gracie the grave of her baby brother. She decides to leave her baby brother in peace spoiling their purpose.

Something magical happens to Gracie. She grows wings like an angel and has the ability to give light to those in need.

This particular stage show has been playing at the South Coast Repertory since 1994 and has since moved to the Odyssey Theatre here in Los Angeles.

The play is a feel good show that lets everyone, young and old, feel the Christmas spirit. You are encouraged to sing “Vamos” and “Este Canto Mio” and dance if your feet so desire.

Diane Rodriguez has directed this version of La Posada Magica. Not to be Ebenezer Scrooge here, but critical moments pass without reason and the audience is left wondering what actually transpired. And while the actions on stage may not always work, the music is great, the voices are fantastic, and there is love everywhere you look. This is a fine tradition and one that tears on your heart.

Octavio Solis, an accomplished Hispanic writer, has given Southern California a look at a Spanish tradition, with inspiring Hispanic actors, and wonderful Hispanic musicians in a nice venue. For the artists, it is a celebration of the richness of our diversity.

The ritual of La Posada started in Spain as a nine-day celebration beginning December 16 and ending December 24. It is a tradition for Mexican families, which symbolize the journey Mary and Joseph took before resting in a manger. This is a spiritual journey that takes the art of rejection and turns it into a journey with a profound purpose. Through the years this journey has become a community festival where friends, neighbors and family members dress as pilgrims, go from house to house carrying lighted candles and singing songs.

1 comment:

  1. I think I will have to take time out of my CRAZY life to let "La Posada" IN! it sounds wonderful~
    Tammy Pet Flys