Re-Imagined Staging of Evita Features Two Evas to Balance the Commentary on Her Life

News   Re-Imagined Staging of Evita Features Two Evas to Balance the Commentary on Her Life
 
Stanford University's Department of Theater & Performance Studies (TAPS) concludes its 2014-15 season with a re-imagined production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita.

This production of Evita features a representation of Eva Perón (called Santa Evita) whose purpose is to "reclaim her own legacy."

Instead of the critique on Eva's life being told through one person (the everyday man Che), this production attempts to balance that dialogue (and the issues with a male narrator being the final word on a heroine's legitimacy as a female figure) by putting a second version of Eva into the piece to defend her choices with transcendent perspective equal to Che's.

Director Sammi Cannold has not added any dialogue to the production, but has split the central character in half. Santa Evita portrays Eva's direct interaction with Che, while Eva Perón is the character immersed in Evita's story.

In Cannold's director's note printed in the program, she writes, "Evita is a portrait of a woman so extraordinary in her desire to be powerful in a culture in which women generally were not, to make an irrevocable mark on the world she would leave behind too soon, and to achieve immortality through a lasting legacy. And while many worshiped, adored, and at the same time others derided her, I don't think they necessarily understood what drove her or who she truly was. Our production of Evita and the historical exhibit featured in our lobby attempt to fill that gap — to help you understand Eva and the culture of adoration and hate that surrounded her, because after all, over-achieving Stanford students are oddly similar to the unbelievably ambitious, driven, and constantly strategizing young Eva Duarte who we meet in 1934 Junín, Argentina. In the most honest assessment, I see so much of Eva Perón's insane and tireless ambition in myself and my peers that telling her story has become a way to reflect on our own stories.

"In turn, what we have created is a production of Evita in which a representation of Eva Perón (Santa Evita) reclaims her own legacy. In most productions of Evita, the critique on Eva's life is one sided — told by a male cynic named Che. Our production attempts to balance that dialogue and the issues with a male narrator being the final word on our heroine's legitimacy as a female figure by putting a second version of Eva into the piece to defend her choices. In most productions we only get arguments about Eva's story from a character who is in the world of the story and consequently 'biased' as she is up against an omni-present and spiritual Che. Our rendition preserves the piece’s original structure, but puts Santa Evita on the same spiritual plane as Che and thereby in a position from which she can protect her own legacy with equally transcendent perspective. My hope is that that gives you the power to evaluate that legacy with information from both sides and ultimately, to decide about your opinions on Eva, on power, and on success yourself." The production is presented on Memorial Auditorium's Main Stage through May 30. Read a review of the production here.

Director Cannold has researched and prepared for this production for more than a year. She traveled to Buenos Aires and Junín, Argentina, to interview Argentinians and Perónist scholars and gain primary research on the legacy of Eva Perón.

Additionally, TAPS has partnered with The Hoover Institution Library & Archives to showcase their world-class Péron collection in the lobby of Memorial Auditorium. Featuring items from Perónist Argentina, including several belonging to Juan and Eva Perón themselves, the collection and partnership represent the ways that scholarship and art intersect at Stanford.

Through this musical, Cannold aims to ignite dialogue amongst the Stanford community and "provide a new perspective on Eva that enables audiences to understand what drove her and her ambition."

According to the theatre department, Evita not only examines Eva's disputed legacy, but also "looks at more general and contemporary concerns, including the topic of society's views on women with political ambitions – a particularly relevant subject given the upcoming presidential election."

The creative team includes set designer Erik Flatmo, costume designers Connie Strayer and Reno Tsosie; projection designer Stephen Hitchcock and lighting designer Matt Lathrop.

For more information and tickets, visit TAPS.Stanford.edu.

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