An angelic revolt, urban chaos and social disorder shape playwright José Rivera's Obie Award-winning drama "Marisol." It's a strange and unusual tale set where real and surreal overlap. Marisol, a young Latin woman, and others must find their way through a violent wasteland as a war in heaven spills onto Earth.
"The play deals in themes of oppression, class warfare, human rights and revolution," says Jackie Apodaca, theater-arts professor and director of the Southern Oregon University Performing Arts production. "While it was written almost 20 years ago, those issues seem particularly relevant in the days of the Arab Spring, ongoing recession and the Occupy movement. Happily, the production is filled with unexpected bursts of laughter and levity — cracks of light in the darkness."
"Marisol" will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, Nov. 1-3 and Nov. 8-10, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10-11, in the Center Square Theatre on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, Nov. 1-3 and 8-10, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10-11
Where: Center Square Theatre on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland
Tickets: $21, $18 for seniors and $6 for students
Call: 541-552-6348 or see www.sou.edu/performingarts
"I wanted to recreate the play's emotional feel — urban, crowded, loud," Apodaca says. "This production gave me the ability to work with students in a different way. We approached it as an experimental piece, very collaborative between director and cast. In 'Marisol,' we are playing with reality.
"We've worked to contemporize the play from 1993 to the present," Apodaca adds. "What is scary now? I expanded outward from the play's original, strong, Catholic imagery to create a more universal parable: How do you hold on to what's important in your heritage, and what do you let go of?"
Surrealism is a strong element in the play's set, designed by SOU professor Sean O'Skea.
"Jackie and I felt strongly that the setting should be very presentational and surreal," he says. "We came up with our 'tidal wave of doors' — some functional, others simply adding to the fragmented environment. Audiences can look forward to a lot of surprises onstage with all the wires showing."
Costume designer Hanna Wisner, a theater-arts major, describes the guardian angel's battle armor as "designed with modern and ancient elements, which I hope will make her seem more powerful."
Playwright Rivera was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004 for best adapted screenplay for "The Motorcycle Diaries," the story of a road trip taken by Che Guevara, an Argentine Marxist revolutionary. Rivera's other plays include "The House of Ramon Iglesias" and "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot."
Apodaca's credits include direction of many new plays in New York City and Los Angeles, and she recently staged "The Taming of the Shrew" at Shakespeare Santa Barbara.
She's also a working actor, appearing in productions at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City, Denver Center Theatre Company and others. She wrote an advice column titled "The Working Actor" for Backstage, a trade publication for the acting industry, for a decade.
SOU's cast includes Anasazi Bhakti, Jimmy Dix, Blair Fraser, Sierra Faulkner, Kurt Langmeyer, Corey Porter, Alyssa Rhoney, Leah Sanginiti, Danny Walker, Grace Wolcott, Rusty Yamamoto and Kevin Young. Sound design is by Joel Ferrier.
"Marisol" is intended for mature audiences.
Tickets cost $21, $18 seniors and $6 for students. Subscribers to three or more plays receive a discounted price of $17, $15 for seniors. Tickets are available at the campus box office and www.sou.edu/performingarts or by calling 541-552-6348.