Milagritos: Cisneros’ Holiday Miracle at Cara Mía Theatre Co.

533678_10151219800444014_233412908_nWho doesn’t hope and pray for a life filled with little miracles? Sandra Cisneros’ 1991 short story collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories  helped solidify her national standing as a major Chicana writer and poet for the unique, radiant voice she gave each character through dynamic, lyrical expression. She uses the universal female archetypes of Virgin, Mother and Seductress to examine the challenges life presents to many women living at the US/Mexico border. They search for identity within two cultures that offer as much suffering and abuse as they do resolution and solace. Little miracles would be so very welcome…..

As the first production in its new season, Cara Mía Theatre Company presents “Milagritos” (Little Miracles), an adaptation of Cisneros’ celebrated work by Cara Mía’s former Artistic Director Marisela Barrera (1997-2002), in dramatic vignette format. This magical holiday treat focuses on the childhood memories of a modern day Mexican-American woman Chayo. The diverse, shape-shifting ensemble of six performers portrays a wide array of characters from her life and neighborhood, including herself as a young girl, Chayito. Through observing the prayers offered and humble petitions presented to a statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Chayo undergoes a personal transformation in which she reintegrates her history and cultural roots with her modern “Anglo” self and in some ways begins to embody La Virgen for some of the supplicants. It’s a hauntingly poignant, thought-provoking evocation of what it must be to live at the uneasy edges of two divergent cultures, both demanding so much sacrifice from women. Vanessa DeSilvio, striking and statuesque, makes a believable, appealing, contemporary Chayo and an equally engaging, ethereal La Virgen when she dons the blue mantle. Frida Espinosa-Muller complements her as the young Chayito, expressing both her nascent, innocent, impatient tendencies as well as her spirit-conscious, wise inner being.

S-Ankh Rasa, Vanessa DeSilvio, Armando Monsivais

S-Ankh Rasa, Vanessa DeSilvio,  Armando Monsivais

Director David Lozano, current Artistic Director and Lead Teaching Artist at Cara Mia Theatre, keeps the action fast–paced and focused on intention yet full of magical possibility. Actors step out of one character and scene into the next incarnation almost as through invisible  sleepwalker walls, at the snap of a finger or a distant star’s faint glimmer. Lozano’s ensemble feels like a cast twice its size. Jesse Zarazaga’s scenic design creates vibrant pictures, minimal yet impacting, allowing each actor a strong, complimentary “guidepost” to aid in defining setting and relationship. Central to his space, a sparsely furnished wooden platform works efficiently as a “revolve”, spun simply from scene to scene by departing or entering actors. Whimsical costumes (Kristin Moore) fill in the colors of the work and add to each scene’s dream-like fluidity. Upstage left, visible but not impinging on the action, a live percussion-based trio accompanies the production with an original score composed by Cara Mia Resident Artist S-Ankh Rasa. Composed of Rasa, Armando Monsivais and Mauricio Barrozo, the trio further enhances the dream world quality of the performance with world-beat percussion instruments, cymbals, keyboards, guitar, flute and didgeridoo. Cara Mía Theatre Company’s “Milagritos” is a little holiday miracle unto itself.

Cast includes: Vanessa DeSilvio, Rodney Garza, Frida Espinosa-Muller, Ana Gonzalez, Cesar Hernandez and Priscilla Rice. Choreography by Michelle Gibson and lighting design by Linda Blase.

“Milagritos” runs through December 15, 2012 at the Latino Cultural Center off Live Oak. Access to parking is a real challenge with street construction. Go early.

Tickets are $12-$30 and are available at Call 214-717-5297 or email for more information.

Photos: Fabian Aguirre

11/29/2012 New York Times article, featuring this production:

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