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“Latina” enraptures audience with hilarious and moving performance

Opening night of “Latina” sets production off to a great start

Photo by Anthony Karambelas

Photo by Anthony Karambelas

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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When was the last time you went to see a play? No excuses. Cal State LA offers quality, on-campus student theater all year-round.

This fall, the Theater Department put on a production of “Latina,” directed by Professor Steven Rothman. The play, written by Milcha Sanchez-Scott, begins by following a Peruvian girl as she embarks on a dangerous trek across borders to the United States. There, the play showcases the lives of maids in the Don Felix Domestic Agency, highlighting the hardships of Latinas working in the industry. While deeply moving, the play also relieves audience members with the hilarious bilingual banter between Latina characters.

Last Friday on opening night, the Cal State LA state playhouse was all laughs and tears, with an incredibly responsive audience that followed the actors through all the highs and lows of the story.

All cast members performed brilliantly, each contributing equally to the overall quality of the performance. As a unit, the cast felt impressively close-knit and natural. Diana Cruz – playing the role of Sarita, the Agency receptionist – stood out as an extremely believable character, struggling with her Latina identity. While her initial denial of her Latina heritage made her a dislikeable character, the audience soon grew to love the young woman as she realized the value in her background.

Gloria Hernandez was exceptional in her portrayal of Lola, a dissatisfied maid with a strong sense of pride in her culture. Moses Israel, playing the part of Don Felix, or Sleazy Sanchez, lived up to his name, adding an extra layer of grease to his shady and despicable persona.

The cultural clash between white women and Latinas in the play resulted in some hilarious moments, such as when the character of Mrs. Levine – a customer played by Tamara Hamming – tried to communicate with her one year of Spanish in high school. The audience erupted into laughter as she spoke the lines, “Excuse me, yo spanko los nino’s.”

Among the many audience members on the premiere showing, the Cal State LA Speech and Debate Team were notable attendees. They were clearly in love with the performance.

Jackson Spencer, Forensics coach, said, “I thought that the intricacies of the set and the metaphor behind the costume changes was amazing and the performances of each and every actor created a beautiful ensemble and I look forward to seeing more shows from the theater department.”

Rashad Freeman, forensicator, was impressed with the way the play dealt with issues that unfortunately remain an issue in American society. “That being said my favorite part was when the led character entered the monologue about what name she should use, settling on Sarah Gomez. It showed not only the character transition in, but also gave assurance that being Latina should never attempt to be hushed!”

Daisy Villalobos mentioned how she related to the sacrifices of undocumented women, because they were similar to the struggles her mother had endured.

       

“Latina” presents something for everyone. For those who prefer a bit of comedy to lighten the heart, “Latina provides jokes galore. For more heavy-hearted folk, “Latina” spreads harsh, but true realities regarding immigration and treatment of Latina maids.

Yes, you read that right. “Latina” is funny, poignant, and educational at the same time. This is definitely not one to miss.

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