Caribbean Island Boy Comes of Age in Quiara Alegria Hudes' Award-Winning Yemaya's Belly, at Portland Stage

News   Caribbean Island Boy Comes of Age in Quiara Alegria Hudes' Award-Winning Yemaya's Belly, at Portland Stage Winter in Portland, Maine gets a slight thaw in March with the Portland Stage production of Yemaya's Belly, Quiara Alegria Hudes' Caribbean-set coming-of-age tale.
Quiara Alegria Hudes
Quiara Alegria Hudes

Peter Sampieri directs the staging, which began performances March 1. Opening is March 4. Performances continue to March 20 at the resident Equity theatre in Portland, ME.

In the play, "young Mulo Jesus leaves his backwater island village to explore the world, and finds himself adrift in a sea of personal discovery," according to Portland Stage. "Using magical realism Hudes interweaves realistic events with surreal and mythical elements to tell this story of a rich, foreign culture and a young man's dreams of the Promised Land. Audiences will delight in the beautiful simplicity and striking visual style of this award winning new work."

Yemaya's Belly won the 2003 Clauder Competition for New England Playwriting and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Latin Playwriting Award.

The cast includes Stephanie Beatriz (Yemaya/Maya), Alexis Camins (Mulo/Jesus), Gilbert Cruz (Tico), Joaquin Torres (Jelin) and Brigitte Viellieu-Davis (Lila/Mami).

The creative members are set designer Anita Stewart, costume designer Susan Picinich, lighting designer Bryon Winn, composer/musician Shamou, sound designer Christopher Fitze and stage manager Marjorie Hanneld. According to production notes, the story "is tinged by tragedy and full of hope, a story about a boy becoming a man, about someone who decides to become the storyteller of his own life's tale. Hudes chooses remarkably simple language to create the island world of the play and helps place us in a culture different from our own with carefully selected Spanish words and phrases. The inclusion of poetry, songs and movement drawn from Santeria, the religion of many African Caribbean and Latin American cultures in which Yemaya is a central deity, helps create a landscape in which the characters and audience move effortlessly between the real and the surreal. The dialogue in the many short exchanges between characters is realistic and uncomplicated. At a few key moments scenes are interrupted by what the playwright calls 'rituals.' Hudes explains that for her these rituals are 'unexpected moments of unity between the baseness of human life and the vastness of ancestral wisdom.'"

Quiara Alegria Hudes is a playwright, composer, and performer originally from West Philadelphia. Her plays include Yemaya's Belly (Portland Stage Company, Miracle Theatre), The Adventures of Barrio Grrrl! (Miracle Theatre) and Holy Broth (Perishable Theatre). Her work has been developed at South Coast Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, the New Group, Signature Theatre and the Kennedy Center. Her honors include the Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Latina Playwriting Award, the International Womens Playwriting Festival, the Weston Prize, the Lucille Lortel Playwriting Fellowship, and first and second prizes in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival.

As a performer, Hudes premiered her solo play Coconut Therapy in a sold-out run at the 2002 Philadelphia Fringe Festival and earned herself the title "Boricua Alternativa!" in the Philadelphia Spanish-language press.

Quiara is the 2004-05 Playwriting Fellow at Page Seventy Three Productions to develop Elliot (A Soldier’s Fugue), exploring three generations of Latino men in the United States military. She is writing the book for a new salsa hip-hop musical In the Heights, currently in development at Manhattan Theatre Club. She was recently commissioned to write a new play for South Coast Repertory in California. She holds a M.F.A in playwriting from Brown University.

For tickets or more information, call (207) 774-0465 or visit www.portlandstage.com.

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