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Esperanza Rising

Michaela Korges, Cactus Writer

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Rehearsal night in the Pence! Dr. Ornelas tells Sosha Beseke to stop putting ideas of revolution in his family’s head. Dr. Christina Marin orders a group of students to have a stoop in their backs when they walk. While this is going on, everyone is trying to find the right place to stand while occasionally moving one another while in mid-sentence.

This is all perfectly normal in the Pence Center, where CAC’s production of Esperanza Rising is being brought to life. The cast of students and professors, is being directed by Dr. Christina Marin. The play centers on the title character who is a teenage girl leading a charmed life in 1930’s Mexico. Her world is turned upside down when her father is murdered and her house is burned to the ground. Esperanza, her mother Ramona, and some of their servants are forced to flee to the United States. The rest of the play focuses on Esperanza and Ramona’s efforts to raise enough money to bring Esperanza’s grandmother to the States to live with them. “It’s a reverse Annie” Miss Beseke observed. “A rich girl goes poor through a series of unfortunate events and she finds a way to overcome it and make herself happy.” Even at the rehearsal stage, everyone involved has a clear idea of what they are doing and how it will relate to the final product.

Watching Dr. Christina Marin direct her actors, one can tell that she already has a clear vision for the play in her mind. Dr. Marin said that she is particular to plays adapted from books such as Esperanza Rising. “I really love directing adaptations because…the book has been on a lot of reading lists and I think it would be interesting for children to see literature brought to life.” She said that she chose this play because it was relevant today. “I think we are obviously dealing with a lot of issues about immigration now… and this a play adapted from…a story of immigration from the 1930’s.” Dr. Marin also stressed the opportunity the play provides for people to learn about more than acting. “For me an educational institution is the perfect place to have students of all different ethnicities and backgrounds and races play different cultures. Many of them (the cast) are learning Spanish to respectfully say their lines.”

The actors are already finding their unique voices and the characters they will become. Shosa Beseke, who plays both Ramona and Marta, is already developing the details of her characters. “Marta is a more tough character… she’s the one who causes all the problems. Ramona is a little more difficult for me because I’ve never done a mother character… she’s higher status than everyone so I hold myself higher, I hold my arms and cup my hands.” Dr. Ornelas is playing the part of Alfonzo, the father of Esperanza’s friend while she is in the U.S. “They (Esperanza’s mother and servants) live in my cabin, so that they can get used to working in America.” This is his second time acting after his role in Once on This Island also produced at CAC. Dr. Ornelas said he started acting because “I just want to have fun and this is a great group to do that with.” Heaven Stricklin, who is playing Hortensia, has been acting since she was a freshman in high school. She calls Hortensia “Esperanza’s nanny” and “the glue for everyone”. Miss Stricklen is noticing and admiring the character growth in the story. “In the end I feel like everybody has changed and the dynamic between everyone has changed as well but it’s sort of stayed the same at the same time” She says.

If you aren’t already considering seeing the play, come and support your fellow students and professors. The play will be at the Pence Center from April 7th through the 9th.

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