Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Music / May 13, 2009

Studio show deals with self-sufficiency and social class

The next show on Studio Theater’s docket, Jose Rivera’s Marisol, directed by post-bac Adam McDowell, promises to be a particularly influential show. McDowell’s enthusiasm for his work was apparent from the start. The first time he read the script he recalls thinking, “I don’t know what I just read but I know it’s awesome.”

Since last winter, at which time McDowell began to assemble a production team, he has been devoted to bringing Jose Rivera’s work to life.

“The language is full of gorgeous images,” McDowell said. In his previous directorial role in studio, McDowell had said the same thing of playwright Stephen Guirgis’s prose in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, but he now adds a modifier to that statement, saying, “Jose Rivera puts Guirgis to shame.”

Marisol is written in the style of magical realism, a potent cocktail of illogical and surrealistic elements flawlessly incorporated into a setting of drop-dead, gritty naturalism.

In turn of the century in New York City, on the eve of the apocalypse, Marisol Perez is suddenly abandoned by her guardian angel. Marisol is told that the angels are revolting against a senile and incompetent God. During the resulting war in Heaven, Marisol will have to navigate a world that is degenerating into chaos. In act two, anything goes.

Episodic in nature, Marisol is not dictated by the common cause-and-effect nature of traditional “living room” plays, as MacDowell calls them. Marisol flies in the face of conventional theater, combining stylized violence, experiments with non-traditional lighting techniques, as well as scenic art and costume design that include street graffiti and dissolving wings, respectfully. The set itself is bare-bones, which allows for quick scene changes and a rapid-fire pace that is essential to the tempo of the piece.

The characters in the script are dictated racially. By canvassing Lo Nuestro and ABLE, McDowell was able to achieve ethnically accurate casting. This is an important aspect to the play because of the allegorical and historical elements that are made directly relevant by the homeless crisis of 1988 and America’s discrimination towards immigrants ranging from Irish, to Africans, to Puerto Ricans throughout the centuries. Each of these statistics has been given a face in Marisol.

Marisol confronts themes of connection, self-sufficiency, and social class.

“These are the issues that are important to me,” said McDowell. “I don’t want people just to appreciate the show — simply begin a dialogue about it. I want them to be affected.”

There will be four performances with about 125 seats available each night. House will open 45 minutes before the show begins rather than the usual Studio Theatre norm of 30 minutes, which will hopefully combat some common crowd control problems. Come early, because this is a chance to see some quality theater that you do not want to miss.

Thursday-Saturday @ 7:30 PM (House opens at 6:45 PM)

Saturday @ 2PM (House opens at 1:15 PM)

Kelsey Ingle

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