Decaying barrio, magic universe, smokin’ live theatre. Ruben C. Gonzalez shape-shifts nine lives like el gato in his many-hued kaleidoscope of the imagination….
His live stage art is transcendent, exhilarating in its simplicity, yet full of emotional depth. Billing his work as “socio/spiritual theatre for a new age”, Cara Mia Theatre presents three performances of Gonzalez’s one man bilingual touring show, “La Esquinita USA” through March 31 at Dallas’ Latino Cultural Center.
La Esquinita, an imaginary financially depressed town, anywhere USA, is peopled with eleven quirky characters from the barrio, male and female, aged and youthful, all seeking identity, connection and peace. Gonzalez defines his universe through the persona of a shape-shifting “wise man” who comes and goes, teasing, guiding and commenting upon the other characters’ actions and expressions, part Coyote trickster, part Obi Wan. Most of the story unfolds through the painful odyssey of a troubled youth Daniel, full of pretension and bluster and immersed in the drug scene. Gonzalez’s adeptness at lightning-fast transition from one character to another, never losing a beat, dropping a line or the story’s thread, and inhabiting each character with a full stage role’s dedication, is a marvel to behold. He keeps his audience enchanted and eager to know where the journey leads, who might emerge next. A gray-toned painting on an upstage screen, depicting urban decay haunted by a human heart dominates the stage (not credited in the program). Downstage both right and left, Gonzalez has placed a bus-stop sign with a derelict shopping cart parked beside it and a waist high black trash can as ‘prop containers’ from which he draws each character’s defining tricks as the show proceeds. Sound design, by Stephanie Woehrmann and lighting design by Sarah Guerra define mood or accent a script moment (from the ping of a bell to a didgeridoo’s wail) without ever upstaging Gonzalez’s elegant performance.
Cara Mia Theatre’s mission is to “broaden appreciation and understanding of Chicano and Latino culture through theatre, literature and educational programs”. “La Esquinita, USA” fulfills every aspect of that mission and offers an evening of charmed, evocative performance. “La Esquinita, USA” premiered at El Teatro Campesino’s New Works Festival in 2010 in San Juan Bautista, California. ETC longtime director Kinan Valdez directed this production.
TICKETS: www.caramiatheatre.com 214-717-5297