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The Promise

by José Rivera. directed by Ludmila de Brito (MFA 2)

November 17 - December 2 | Theodore & Adele Shank Theatre

 

About the Show

José Rivera's "The Promise" uses magical realism in telling the story of two star-crossed young lovers, Lilia and Carmelo Guzman.  Lilia's father is determined to settle a blood feud-- a broken vow alluded to in the play's title.  Gusmán is determined to have his daughter marry someone of his choosing by any means necessary, even employing his fighting chicken. The neighbor's children eat trucks, and Milton, Lilia's brother, grapples with his identity and changes his name to Clint (or Dodge?) - leaving his heritage behind to become a cowboy in the Arizona desert. Like in the late 80's Patchogue, NY, the Mafia is here, putting us against each other, eating away the land, culture, and people. This is a story about colonial violence, about the patterns of dominance against women and the land, and at its core, it is a love letter to the immigrant, an acknowledgment of the sacrifices that are made every day in order to survive in this country. 

Director's Note

In Patchogue, NY, 1989, a Puerto Rican man tries to break his family's cycle of poverty by marrying his daughter, Lilia,  to a rich man. While bulldozers eat away the city that, at the time, was the home of many black and brown folk and has now become a gentrified white tourist town. The Promise by José Rivera shines light towards the unsustainable nature of colonization and the human sacrifices in the middle of it all.

In this play we see how the dream of family that Guzman could have had gets destroyed by his need to assimilate, trapped in an American Dream that perpetuates the colonizer mentality: forgetting his mother tongue, tortured by inequality, Guzman brings himself to lose the most important thing he has ever had; his relationship with his children. We also see Lilia, who changes the whole world around her in her pursuit of being true to who she is and who she loves. Milton, her brother, goes on a journey of erasing his Latino identity and becoming a cowboy, even changing his name to Clint, or Dodge and their neighbor, Lollin works the system to fight for herself and for her children as a single mother.

Why does Lilia’s freedom need to be Guzman tragedy? How can we find our way out of cycles of survival? Resist when our own culture is being erased from our bodies? Can we ever separate the dreams from the sorrows of our people?

Unkechaugi Chief Harry Wallace shared with us something about the land where this story takes place: That everyone is welcome to come and take what they need from the land, and no more than what they need. - What we are currently doing to the land and to ourselves is not sustainable.

The Mafia is here, putting us against each other, eating away the land, culture, and people. But they can’t take away our ability to dream and tell stories. Our dreams are too large to be contained, in this play, psychology explodes in the form of theatricality. This is what Magical Realism is in Latin America, a tool for resistance.

The Promise is a story about colonial violence, about the patterns of dominance against women and the land, and at its core, it is a love letter to those who have had their homelands colonized, to the immigrant in the USA, and to their children: an acknowledgment of the sacrifices that are made every day in order to survive in this country.

 

Tickets

Friday, Nov. 17 @ 7:30PM
Saturday, Nov. 18 @ 2PM
Saturday, Nov. 18 @ 7:30PM
Thursday, Nov. 30 @ 7:30PM
Friday, Dec. 1 @ 7:30PM
Saturday, Dec. 2 @ 7:30PM

 

  Click image to view digital program!

The Cast

 

Guzman: Ricky Lozano 

Alegria: Kenneth Ray

Malinche: Nate B. Smith

Lilia: Kat Peña

Lolin: Colby Muhammad

Milton: Diego Gonzalez

Carmelo/Hiberto:  

Noé Castrejón (Nov. 17 - 18)

Germainne Lebrón (Nov. 30, Dec 1-2)

Priest: Sophia Marcos Jeronimo

Woman in Shroud: Mercedes Rockin

Spirit People: Scarlett Arreola, Gabriella Marie Johnson, Mars Stern

 

 

About the Director

Ludmila de Brito is a Brazilian director of Indigenous descent who loves telling stories. Her heart steers towards politically urgent work and plays that ask us to transcend the conditioning of surviving. "When do we start living?"

Most recently, Ludy directed Emily J. Daly's episode of the MTARadioPlays (Rattlestick) as well as Project Transform (Hartford Stage) with Nilaja Sun. United World Colleges and NTI alum, Ludy is a Lin Manuel Miranda Family Fellow. She has directed in Brazil and India. Ludy has assisted Jenna Worsham in The Siblings Play by Ren Dara Santiago at Rattlestick and Megan Sandberg-Zakian in Much Ado at the Boston Common. As an educator, she has worked with Westerville South Theatre, Hartford Stage, and the National Theater Institute at the O'Neill.