so go the ghosts of méxico, part one
so go the ghosts of méxico, part one – the first of a three-play cycle by playwright Matthew Paul Olmos – premieres on April 11th at La Mama, directed by Meiyin Wang, known to many as the Associate Artistic Producer of the Under the Radar Festival.
Inspired by the true story of Marisol Valles Garcia, Olmos’ so go the ghosts of méxico, part 1 is the journey of one woman who offers to take the place of her town’s murdered police chief. Her actions set off a chain of events that involve her husband, the drug dealers, and “perhaps the entire country of Mexico.”
The play is an incisive investigation of the culture of violence generated by the U.S./Mexico drug wars, a culture virtually ignored in our country, except when offered as a specter or bogeyman of the violence kept at bay by patrolled borders and draconian anti-immigration laws.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Olmos shares: “The first play focuses on when the political becomes the personal, as the complexities of these drug wars impact this lone woman. The second play explores the drug cartels themselves, but as portrayed though a cast of all women as a commentary of the machismo of their world. And the third play focuses on the U.S. involvement. The one thread running through all three plays are the use of music as a character, and the ghosts of the dead which appear in all three.”
Olmos is a rising star among young playwrights. In the past year he was selected to be an emerging artist fellow at NTYW, was awarded the 2012 Princess Grace Fellow in Playwriting, and chosen as the inaugural recipient of La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Emerging Playwright Award, hand-picked by Sam Shepard – one of Olmos’ role models and inspiration. Under the mentorship of Ruth Maleczech as a two time resident artist at Mabou Mines, Olmos developed The Nature of Captivity, which was awarded the BBC’s ‘Top Prize of the Americas’ in 2011.
Two years ago Adam Szymkowicz asked Olmos if he could change one thing about theater, what would it be? And he responded, “I have this daydream that theatre allows itself to be more fucked up. For all the invigorating pieces I see, it is still a very safe art’form, at least in this country…”
For so go the ghosts of méxico, part one Olmos has surrounded himself with a dynamic creative team who just may be able to deliver on Olmos’ dream of unsafe theater.
Meiyin Wang is an adventurous director, taking on work of epic scale large themes and sweeping landscapes. Her last production Open Up, Hadrian transformed a Sunset Park warehouse into “Ancient Rome by way of an excavated film set.” Set designer Nick Benacerraf, who just won an LA Weekly Theater Award for Set Design for his work on Son of Semele Theater’s The City and who designed The Assembly’s underground hit HOME/SICK, brings his talents to Olmos’ play. His work weaves itself into the conversation of the performance, creating textures that stimulate the audience and challenges their passivity in relation to the space. Jeanette Yew, lighting designer for so go… is not just a lighting and video designer, but a skilled puppeteer as well. I met Yew during a workshop ERS held at NYTW last year and have been following her work ever since. She brings a collaborative sensibility to her role as a designer, working “to create a visual environment that is organically integrated into the landscape and language of the production.” I’m less familiar with the work of sound designer Elizabeth Rhodes and costume designer Alice Tavener, but the company they keep seems to bode well.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this promising show turns out!
Matthew Paul Olmos
so go the ghosts of méxico, part one
April 11-28, Wed-Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:30pm
LA Mama First Floor Theater
74A East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003