TeatRum Presents: "Mundo Cruel"

 

On March 6th, the 7th annual Coloquio del Otro La’o began at 10:30am, and closed the day with TeatRUM’s  presentation of “Mundo Cruel,” an adaptation of a book of short stories by Puerto Rican author Luis Negrón, directed by Gustavo Velazquez, Natalia del Valle, and Enrique Palomo from the theater student association, TeatRUM.

Thirty minutes prior to the play, there was a huge line of spectators that circled around the Chardon lobby in front of Figueroa Chapel. When the doors opened, the theater slowly filled to maximum capacity with an eager crowd ready for the show.

The play was composed of 5 different stories that each tackled a range of topics like sexual and racial discrimination, prejudice, and LGBT+ relationships from the perspective of different people from distinct sexual orientations.

 

In the first story “Muchos,” we saw two women gossip about their neighbor and her child’s upbringing. The conversation between them is carried out in a gossip-like tone and the characters were portrayed as hypocritical to highlight the kinds of colloquial comments we are used to hearing about women and the queer community. In the conversation between these two women, we didn’t only see the manifestation of homophobia, but also the way women treat one another and the lack of respect when it comes to accepting each other's decisions. The women in the conversation consistently speak negatively about a third neighbor, Tina, and the way she accepts her child’s queer behavior.

In between each story, we are presented with a monologue by Katherine de la Rosa, who portrays a character named Naldi, where she tells the story of the death of her dog, Guayama, and her loneliness after losing her pet. This character is continuously calling a friend, Sammy, to ask for money and tell him/her about the struggles she is facing. In the end, she embarks to find her friend in the Dominican Republic and ends up incarcerated, finding herself falling in love with one of the inmates.

In the short story “El Jardin,” the audience was introduced to a relationship in which one of the characters, Willie, portrayed by Luis German, is diagnosed HIV positive. We were then taken through a short glimpse at the life and pain of the people close to Willie as they come to the realization of his imminent death.

El elegido” is a long monologue presented by Ivan Martinez portraying the character of Nicolas. In this piece, we are taken through a series of narrations of the different sexual encounters the character has embarked in as he discovered his sexuality from a young age. We are also made aware of the influence religion and the church and the way the presence of faith impacts the way the character sees himself.

In the final story, “Mundo Cruel,” we are introduced to Pachi, a lesbian woman who feels very negatively about other homosexuals expressing their sexuality publicly. Pachi is constantly criticizing the way other members of her community act and dress, and she even has a name for masculine lesbians, “buchas”. In the end, Pachi goes to a party with a friend, and a girl from high school, dressed in rather masculine clothing, approaches her to ask her to dance. Pachi says yes, giving the character a small redemption moment.

After the play ended, there was a section for conversation, in which audience members were allowed to ask questions and engage in discussion with the actors and directors. Director Gustavo Velasquez expressed, “The best way to break prejudice is by coming into contact with the very groups we are prejudiced towards. The theater is an excellent way to do this.” Throughout the discussion, the students highlighted the importance of representation and opening spaces for discussion about the realities of the LGBT+ community. Paola del Valle, the actress that portrayed the character Pachi, said “plays and movies are good social mirrors,” when talking about the realities of members of the queer community that are still prejudiced against themselves, as the character of Pachi brings to light. Del Valle also states,  “we need to auto-analize ourselves to determine if what we are doing is really correct.”

Ivan Martínez, the actor that portrayed Nicolas “El elegido,” commented how, “my character reflects a lot of truths about the homosexual experience especially when you are not brought up in an environment of sexual liberty.” Martinez describes his character as hipersexual and expressed that the audience could feel resistant towards this representation because we are taught to fear our sexuality as well as speaking and expressing ourselves about it.