Femininity, strength unite in theater season

By Jose Arebalo, Advocate Staff

“Frida Kahlo: The Artist; The Woman” is striving to be a thrilling production that pays homage to the Guatemalan roots of the iconic artist through a dramatic tale.

Performances in both English and Spanish will take place beginning Oct. 18 and auditions are currently being conducted by the drama department.
“We already announced that it is going to be in Spanish and English, but we do not even have a cast yet,” drama department Chairperson Carlos-Manuel Chavarria said.

Chavarria wrote the production and decided to put on shows in both English and Spanish because he knew that the local community would appreciate the opportunity to see theater in a language other than English.

Frida Kahlo is popular in a commercial setting, so he knew people would come out to watch the production.

“I try to work with plays that speak about Mexican culture,” Chavarria said. “I wanted to do something that is Latino but at the same time something that will appeal to non-Spanish speaking audiences.”

He knew that picking a play focused on Frida Kahlo would garner attention from the community.

It was also a brilliant opportunity to offer a special kind of show by having a showing in Spanish.

The show takes a more feminist approach to tell Frida’s story than usual productions.

Instead of focusing solely on the romantic narrative that drives many Hollywood adaptations, Chavarria chose to share the other aspects of her life on stage.

“I am looking for actors who are good at English and good at Spanish,” he said. “At the end of the day we are an educational institution, so the idea is to teach the students how to be better actors.

But I do want an actress who can be a really good Frida because she carries the show,” Chavarria said.

“When we rehearse, we have to repeat the same scene twice,” Chavarria said.

The production is quite demanding of its actors as they will be investing a lot more effort than usually afforded by their schedules.

Not only will actors need to memorize two different scripts in separate languages, but they will need to practice spacing and scenes in both languages.

“The traditional costumes are real costumes I went and bought at indigenous places,” Chavarria said.

He has worked hard to ensure that the quality of the production is as authentic as possible.

“We are doing a play about Frida Kahlo, and she represents very much the indigenous people of Oaxaca,” Chavarria said. “I wanted to give something back by going over there and buying costumes from them.”

Being a community college production means more to Chavarria than simply taking place at a college.

“Contra Costa College is a community so therefore auditions should be open to the community,” Chavarria said.

The outside community should be welcome to participate in these productions as well.

He is working on making it easier for community members to participate in productions by possibly creating a community theater class.

“We are doing community outreach classes for theater which should have been done before,” Chavarria said.

A student interested in auditioning for the play, Gustavo Camargos, said he thought it was a fun opportunity to do something new.

Stage manager Roxana Rosales was checking students into the auditions and said, “I am really excited for my first show stage managing, I think it is going to be really good.”

A second show will be playing this semester in December titled “The Book of Liz.”