Monday, October 12, 2015

Drunk Girl by Josefina López – Additional Plays written by Rocío Díaz and Libette Garcia


By Joe Straw

When trying to reduce sexual assault, labeling all forms of sexual misconduct, including unwanted touches and sloppy kisses, as rape is alarmist and unhelpful. We need to draw distinctions between behavior that is criminal, behavior that is stupid and behavior that results from the dance of ambiguity. – Carol Tavris, social psychologist -

Josefina López says this show is not about male bashing.  No males were bashed in the making of this production. Still, being male, one gets uncomfortable.

In the set, by Set Designer Marco De Leon, it is interesting to note the words “POWER”, in art deco-like paintings, on flats layered to form a “V” shape. Those flats are standing above a drawn symbol of a uterus, complete with the spiral shapes of fallopian tubes.

While I love Josefina Lopez’s work, I prefer her full-length plays, which may not be possible, given her busy schedule.  Still, her vignettes are a tasty treat on this night.    
One waits for the main course on another day.  

Casa 0101 Theater presents Drunk Girl written by Josefina López, additional plays written by Rocío Díaz and Libette Garcia, directed by Claudia Duran, Elvia Susana Rubalcava, María G. Martínez and produced by Josefina López, Claudia Duran, Lindsey Haley through October 18, 2015.

This production is brutally honest in its presentation of rape. López’s intention was to make the reference loud and clear. Yet the pain and destruction caused by rape may be more powerfully presented using subtlety and nuance. In a theatrical production, frequently “less is more”, and that wins the theatrical day.

Still, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the show had funny moments, with some fine actors working on their craft. One can applaud Casa 0101 for giving Latinos the forum to act, write, and direct.  And I admit that I go to these performances to see the small gems.

Red Flag Game Show by Josefina López and directed by Claudia Duran is about Apa (Henry Aceves Madrid) and his daughter Teenage Girl (Maria Villa) who wants to date boys.  Apa doesn’t think she is ready but agrees to let her date only if she wins a TV game show where she will need to buzz in to guess the various types of men: stalkers, sociopaths, and serial killers.   (TV these days.)  

Asking For It by Josefina López and directed by Elvia Susana Rubalcava finds a couple of men hanging out in the park and throwing out lewd remarks to women running in the park. Nobody wins in this unpleasant exchange between strangers.

Stick-Her by Josefina López and directed by María G. Martínez.  Stick-Her takes sandwich boards and personal post it notes to a new level. During her night of salsa, after having too much to drink, a woman gets drunk plastered with ugly signs on her back saying “Warning I’m drunk…” or “I have herpes” so men won’t take advantage of her. Nice friends.

Alex, The Self Defense Instructor by Josefina López and directed by María G. Martínez finds Alex (Rosa Navarrete), a self defense instructor, who has been arrested for fighting, defending herself, and then having to explain why she did what she did.    

Unlucky Man by Josefina López and directed by Claudia Duran is the story of John (Alex “Alpharoah” Alfaro) who misinterprets signals from a sexual partner and later finds himself in prison. And while he is there he tells someone what it is liked being raped in prison.    

I Want You by Josefina López and directed by Claudia Duran is the story of three exotic dancers—how they feel about dancing, being in control of the men on the dance floor, and wanting to be sexy, but not necessarily wanting to have sex.

Can Finally Laugh About It by Josefina López and directed by María G. Martínez is the story of a stand up comedian Altagracias (Jasia Topete) doing her set at a comedy club when her story of her rape becomes uncomfortable and then a heavily padded owner (Henry Aceves Madrid) breaks it up and gets her off the stage but not before she makes her point.  

Second Chance by Josefina López and directed by Claudia Duran is the story of self-defense instructor, Mr. Black (Samuel Solorio) and Shy Female Student (Maia Villa) who is asked to come back, after hours, to get a second chance to pass the self-defense test.  

Pink Scars by Rocío Díaz and directed by Gina Median is a play about three women and their stories of being raped at various ages in their life.

Lolita Corazón by Josefina López and directed by Claudia Duran is a story with a lot of depth and poignancy. Dolores (Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete) is at a pharmacy to have a prescription filled for a female contraceptive.  She is one woman, with two different personalities, Dolores is cautious and her other personality, Lolita (Maia Villa), is outgoing and fearless; yet both are the same woman.

A Real Man by Josefina López and directed by María Martínez is one that I especially enjoyed.  Nacho (Samuel Solorio) plays a man giving a talk about being a real man, finding the answers that make it so, and breaking down in the process. Solonio does some terrific work in this play that doesn’t have a strong finale.  

Life Is Not A Fairy Tale by Josefina López and directed by Elvia Susana Rubalcava is another wonderful story of a girl who wants to go out dancing (Jasia Topete) and her mother (Juanita Gina Medina) who tries to talk her out of it. The mother shares her story about the time when she has the same desires with a disastrous outcome.  Medina and Topete give terrific turns as mother and daughter with a surprising ending.

Stand Up for Women by Josefina López and directed by María G. Martinez is the story of students and Professor Avila (Juanita Gina Medina) who lectures on rape and how women are controlled.

Devil Insider Her by Josefina López and directed by Elvia Susana Rubalcava is one I found absolutely fascinating.  Looking like an SNL skit, this is a story about three women in a bar who cannot stop talking about their one friend who embarrassed them the night before after she had a drink.  Debbie (Melissa Perl) then joins them and apologizes to everyone, well, not really, as her apology is a vacuous wordy stare, and to no one in particular. And then, after the one drink, she behaves much worse, worse than how the others described.  Think feeding Gremlins after midnight. Debbie is like Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde and men had better hold on.  The actors’ work is stylized and the play was a joy to watch.

Drunk Girl by Lisbette Garcia and directed by Claudia Duran is the story of Lucia (Melissa Perl) sharing at an AA meeting about how she got to this moment in time.

Yes!  Let’s Have Sex! By Josefina López, created by the Ensemble, and directed by Claudia Duran is a mishmash of ideas from the cast including the “Bill Cosby” Jello bit on video interestingly performed by Henry Kelly Alexander (who also was in a number of other skits during the night). Alexander has a nice stage presence.

All through the night and during the scene changes, the characters came acting out as if they were in various stages of inebriation.  One is not sure why the director did this or what lessons were to be learned.  Some were funny movements on and off stage, yet the point should have been clearer.

Ideally, it is probably a better idea to stay sober, and to bring a friend, and or a designated driver.   

Alex “Alpharoah” Alfaro has some nice moments, but needs to do more work in character and backstory to add to the characters’ depth.  

Henry Alexander Kelly has a good look and I can see him doing Saturday Night Live given more work and character study.  I saw some this in the Cosby skit and Devil Insider Her.

Henry Aceves Madrid is always a pleasure to watch.  I’m not sure about his padded outfit or his voice in Can Laugh About It that does not ring true.   

Jasia Topete is an actor that can do many things and she is surprising in her roles on stage.  She is a fresh face and everyone loves fresh faces.

Juanita Gina Medina really gives her all to the various scenes she is in.

Maia Villa has a wonderful presence and expressive eyes, and does some nice work in her scenes.

Melissa Perl is outstanding in the Devil Inside Her and comical in Stick-Her.  She is thin, with a wry sense of humor, and has expressive green eyes.  She also has a lovely voice. One can only imagine watching her do other fantastic things.

Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete has an unassuming character as Dolores in Lolita Corazón but is outstanding in the role.

Samuel Solorio does some outstanding work throughout the various pieces he is in but he also does the small things when he is not in the scenes that bring a lot of life to a character.  These are the intangible things that make an actor shine on stage.

Other members of the production team are as follows:

Wendy Castro – Assistant Director
Sophia Sanchez – Stage Manager
Estibaliz Giron – Assistant Stage Managers
Sohail e. Najafi – Technical Director
Marco De Leon – Set Design
Rafael O. Calerón – Set Builder Assistant
Joshua Cuellar – Lighting Design
Jorge Villanueva – Light Board Operator
Abel Alvarado – Costume Designer
Julius Bronola – Assistant Costume Designer
Vincent A. Sanchez – Sound Designer & Projections
Steve Moyer Public Relations – Press Representative
Ed Krieger – Photography
Soap Studio, Inc. – Graphic Design

Run!  Have fun! And take a designator driver/body guard. 

Reservations:  323-263-7684
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