Junior Caroline Castro brought the words of Sandra Cisneros to life this past weekend in Studio Theater.
Castro was first introduced to the work of Cisneros in high school but re-discovered the author when a friend gave her a book of short stories.
She decided to petition for a bare stage show in Studio Theater based on “Bien Pretty,” one of the short stories in the collection.
“Even though there wasn’t a script, [The Theater Advisory Board] had confidence that I could do it and I did,” she said.
Over spring break, Castro worked to adapt the short story into a one-act play. The language and plot of this particular Cisneros text especially resonates with Castro.
“It was just so personal but the language is so poetic that it doesn’t isolate an audience, either,” she said.
Castro has been interested in Spanish literature as well as theater throughout her time at Knox. Much of her work combines English and Spanish. The themes represented through the language of “Bien Pretty,” according to Castro, closely parallel her life.
“I like Spanglish; it’s so in the middle. That’s what it represents,” she said. “Being from Puerto Rico, I feel like I’m very in between. This character, Lupe, is in a state of in between. She has to really let go of the past and take hold of the future.”
The show was presented in the round but no chairs were provided for the audience. Instead, the acting space was surrounded by soft foam mats and theater-goers were encouraged to make themselves comfortable.
“I wanted it to be like a campfire,” said Castro. She went on to explain the significance of the show’s narrative and the emphasis on the lead female, Lupe’s, expressions.
“There was nothing necessarily exciting for the audience, except for how she was saying things,” said Castro.
Such word-based theatre is a passion of Castro’s and has been since she started playwriting at Knox, but she also learned the significance of words to an actor during winter’s rep term performance of Angels in America: Part I.
“It’s really about the words. I let the words guide me to feel the way that she feels. I had to let go of thought and just analyzing everything and intellectually approaching [my character],” she said. “I had to let that all go for a moment and let those words come through my body.”
Castro hopes to direct two more pieces in Studio Theater before she graduates; an adaptation of Pedro Calderon’s La vida es sueño and Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit.
“I want cultural theatre that still connects to an audience that’s not of its peers; that can be something we share because we’re sharing that space,” she said.
One performance of “Bien Pretty” was staged at Casa Latina.
“I wanted to see if this was a piece that could travel,” she said.
Castro is currently working with the Center for Community Service to develop a travelling theatre troupe at Knox.
“[It’s possible] to use theatre as a way to heal the community; to really serve the community by making it laugh and making it feel good,” she said.
Interested parties can e-mail Castro at firstname.lastname@example.org.