“Healing, Educated, Opening, Love, and Empowerment.” These were several of the words that audience members shouted out in the Talkback after Saturday’s powerful performance of Las Mujeres (The Women), produced by Power Street Theatre Company (PSTC) in Philadelphia. Written by Erlina Ortiz, a Dominican-American, Las Mujeres, despite the Spanish title, is performed in English at the West Kensington Ministry in the Northeast part of the city. The show was sold out and most of the enthusiastic and appreciative audience stayed for the conversation afterwards.
To quote Ortiz, “Las Mujeres seeks to educate and inspire audiences by providing comedic and dramatic insight on the challenges women and Latinx people face when assimilating into traditional male dominated spaces.” She has written a solid script that is clear and direct, with frequent humor. The characters include two contemporary women, as well as four icons: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, an intelligent and well-educated nun from Mexico’s colonial period, Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s most famous female visual artist, Rita Hayworth, (whose real name was Margarita Carmem Cansino, and was of Spanish and gitana descent) and Minerva Mirabal, who along with her sisters, fought against the oppressive dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.
The cast includes Gabriela Sanchez (also the Founder and Managing Director of PSTC), Krystal Lizz Rosa, Diana Rodriguez, Anjoli Santiago, Marisol Custodio, and Lorenza Bernasconi. Tamanya M.M. Garza, director, created a tight ensemble that deftly interpreted the script. As Frida, Diana Rodriguez had many of the comic lines that inspired robust laughter. I particularly enjoyed the characterization of gentil Sor Juana (Anjoli Santiago) and the use of her poetry in the interaction. Lorenza Bernasconi, who has a sweet and well projected voice, also sang as Rita Hayworth. Rounding out the women from the past, Marisol Custodio was a sober and strong Minerva Mirabal. Krystal Lizz Rosa, (Lena) performs for the first time outside of Temple University, and she is a promising talent. The most difficult role was that of Marlene, played with conviction by Gabriela Sanchez. She experiences a range of emotions throughout the play and must relate to four dead women from different countries and centuries!
Power Street Theatre is working hard to bring the audience to the performance. In addition to offering discount tickets for industry, students, veterans, community residents and senior citizens, economical ticket prices ($10-25), audience members can take advantage of child care services while at the show by reserving 24 hours ahead of time! High school students 18 and under are admitted free! So there are no excuses… don’t miss this new evocative play about a latina’s experience.
Running time: Approximately one hour and 40 minutes, no intermission.
Las mujeres plays through March 17, 2018, performing at the West Kensington Ministry–2140 N Hancock St, Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, purchase them online. Tickets are also available at the door an hour before showtime.