NEW PALTZ -- Under the direction of Theatre Arts Professor Beverly Brumm, the summer's production of José Rivera's Obie Award-winning play Marisol: An Apocalyptic Fantasy returns to SUNY New Paltz for a one-week run. The play is performed in McKenna Theatre Wednesday, September 19, Friday, September 21, and Saturday, September 22 at 8:00 PM. On Sunday, September 23, the performance begins at 2:00 PM. There is no performance on Thursday, September 20.
In addition to student performers, the cast of Marisol features a number of alumni from the SUNY New Paltz theatre program. Lorraine Rodriquez, who plays the title role, graduated from New Paltz in May 2000 and has since been performing professionally in New York City. Her recent work includes an Off-Broadway appearance in On the Edge at the Mint Theatre and in a number of television commercials. Ramona Richardson, who plays the role of the angel, graduated from New Paltz in 1992 after performing in such memorable shows as Hair and The Robber Bridegroom, and has since been working as a founder and member of the Women's Experimental Theatre Group in New York City.
Rivera's play is characterized by its fantastical flavor, which is inspired by the body of writing often called Magical Realism. As Rivera says, "my plays are not exaggerations. As far as I am concerned, everybody is a magic realist. We all think magically when we sleep. In our dreams there are monsters and angels. Everyone has them. In my world, the inner psychology of the characters is just reflected onstage It's the same thing Shakespeare did when he used a thunderstorm to reflect the fury of King Lear."
Dr. Brumm points to Rivera's close association with noted author and self-proclaimed magic realist Gabriel Garcia Marquez as influential in the playwright's stylistic development. "Magical Realism assaults the basic structures of rationalism and logic by treating fantastic events as entirely natural or real; the approach shakes up the traditional notions of time and space and cause and effect, reaching for the mystery and magic behind surface reality." In Marisol, Rivera produces a world that is distinctively surrealistic, a world in which angels interact with people and where such interaction comes without apology.
"Jose Rivera's conversion to writing plays of magic realism brings innovation and excitement to the theatre," continues Dr. Brumm. "He brings an additional gift to the theatre as well, in his identity as a minority playwright: he is one of a group of non-white, non-mainstream artists who provide audiences with opportunities to more deeply explore and understand worlds not their own. In the American landscape, these works need and deserve support. As Rivera has said, 'I find that being a quote, unquote minority writer in this culture, you have to fight to get your voice heard. Each play is a declaration of my right to speak and to be included; it's sort of like throwing down a gauntlet.'"
Dr. Brumm emphasizes this socially conscious vein, citing the intrinsic and necessary social aspect of all Magical Realism. "José Rivera has achieved this in Marisol. In addition, he has fulfilled one of his personal definitions: 'One of the roles of the artist is to bear witness to our time.' We hope that this production supports his imaginative and unique voice."
Tickets to Marisol: An Apocalyptic Fantasy may be purchased at the door to McKenna Theatre one hour prior to each performance. Seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Prices are as follows: $12 adults, $10 seniors. The Department of Theatre Arts offers the following special rates to the SUNY community: $8 faculty/staff and $6 students.
For more information on other arts events, go to www.newpaltz.edu/artsnews.
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Note to editors: Images from Marisol: An Apocalyptic Fantasy are available on the Web at http://hawk.newpaltz.edu/news/images/marisol.html.
SUNY New Paltz is a university of nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students located in the Mid-Hudson Valley halfway between New York City and Albany. SUNY New Paltz is committed to providing high quality, affordable education to students from all social and economic backgrounds. For more information about the university, visit its web site at http://www.newpaltz.edu.