Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Theater: "The River Bride"

The River Bride play by Marisela Treviño Orta, poster by Kate Forrester
You had to know it wouldn't be long before a theater post turned up, didn't you? And we do indeed have a magical production for you to consider seeing:
The River Bride
A Grim Latino Fairy Tale
by Marisela Treviño Orta
Press photo by Tom McGrath 
Press release: Once upon a time, in a fishing village along the Amazon, there lived two sisters struggling to find their happily-ever-after. Helena is dreading her sister Belmira's wedding. The groom, Duarte, should have been hers. And she knows that her sister only wants to escape their sleepy Brazilian town for an exciting new life in the city. But three days before the wedding, fishermen pull a mysterious stranger out of the river - a man with no past who offers both sisters an alluring, possibly dangerous future. Brazilian folklore and lyric storytelling blend into a heartrending tale of true love, regret, transformation, and the struggle to stay true to your family while staying true to yourself.
“The River Bride” is deceptively simple, as all good fairy tales are. And also like all good fairy tales, there are lessons to be learned, this one about the courage to love and the danger in thoughtless love. (
Photography & gif by Mark Holthusen
It's pretty clear this play is a fairy tale. It even opens with "Once upon a time...". Broadway World waxed eloquent about the production staged by Arizona Theater Company in December 2018, and gave every reason for magic realism folks and lovers of Latin American folklore to go see this play (as well as being recommended as a wonderful piece of real theater that's accessible to all ages). Here's their brief summary of the Brazilian tale (aka The Legend of the Pink River Dolphin or Bufeo Colorado - in full at this link) The River Bride is based on:
In the telling of this story, the poet/playwright has adopted a piece of the region's folklore as her metaphor ~ the fable of a boto , a river dolphin, that every June surfaces as a man for three days during which he must find a wife or return to the river.
And Broadway World give a lovely description of what the production feels like to watch:
In Arizona Theatre Company's reprise of the work that it first honored four years ago with its National Latino Playwriting Award, director Kinan Valdez conveys Orta's allegory into a vivid sensory experience. Gifted with a choreographic sensibility, he masterfully marries the emotions of the characters with the mood of their environs. Whether it's a sudden downpour, a curtain of tropical foliage, or the changing tones of the river, David Lee Cuthbert's projections and Emiliano Valdez's sound effects create a lush and seductive frame for the action on the stage.
(We'll let you read the rest of the review yourself if you're intrigued!)
A little note of additional interest and something to watch for: The River Bride is actually one of a trilogy of "grim Latino fairy tales" that playwright Marisela Treviño Orta has written, including Wolf at the Door* (which premiered at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Fall 2018) and Alcira. In an interview with Abel of  Howlround Theater Commons Orta discussed her inspiration by both the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and Latinx mythology. Here's an excerpt:
Press photo by Tom McGrath
Abel: Wolf at the Door... along with The River Bride, contain the subtitle or description “a grim Latino fairy tale.” Could you elaborate more on this description and some elements of this type of fairy tale?

Marisela: Of course “grim” is a bit of word play on the Brothers Grimm. Their fairy tales are so dark and violent. They were cautionary tales—helping people navigate the dark and dangerous world they lived in. These days fairy tales are very sanitized; a lot of the violence is gone and the focus is more on the “happy ending.”
With this cycle of plays, I was interested in writing fairy tales similar to those written by the Brothers Grimm—cautionary tales for adults. The plays deal with regret, agency, and empowerment.
The fairy tales are “Latino” because each of them draws inspiration from a specific Latino folklore or mythology. Wolf at the Door is set Mexico and is based on a Mesoamerican belief. The River Bride is set in Brazil and is inspired by Amazonian folklore. And Alcira is set in San Francisco and is based on Aztec mythology.
They sound fascinating, don't they? We'll have to keep an eye out...
Mark Holthusen

In the meantime, The River Bride is being staged and performed by the Stages Repertory Theater in Houston, Texas through February 10th, 2019. Though not the same production (or director or cast) as that reviewed by Broadway World, it has been receiving glowing press reviews (see below), that indicate it worth your time and money, should you be lucky enough to get tickets before it's sold out

(If you do - please let us know what you thought. We'd be happy to post your review!**)

“Full of seductiveness and rhythm … Wonderful, moving, riveting!” 
— Arizona Daily Star

"A mesmerizing, magical tale of heartbreaking romance...A shining example of what live theatre is all about: superb storytelling; marvelous actors; and technical expertise that transcends into seamless, stunning reality right before the audience's eyes."
 Times Standard

"A thought provoking, stunningly raw and romantic production for all ages"

— Buzz Center Stage
Press photo by Tom McGrath

* Synopsis of Wolf at the Door: In this dark fairy tale, Isadora finds the strength to stand up to her abusive husband Septimo when he forces the very pregnant Yolot to stay against her will. While Septimo makes plans for the baby, Isadora and Yolot devise one of their own. And as a pack of wolves closes in on the hacienda, Isadora must decide what price she'll pay for her own freedom. Wolf at the Door is set to be staged by various companies during 2019. (Check out Kitchen Dog Theater's page of the production, April 11 to May 5, 2019.)

**Reviews of books, theater or movies are welcome by any of our readers, though remain subject to approval by Once Upon A Blog's editor. Credit is always given to the writer (personal blurb optional) and we are happy to post a link to the writer's personal website or social media pages for promotion. We do not require exclusive publishing rights, only permission for the content to remain publicly available at our home site.

No comments:

Post a Comment