In the French Age of Splendor, Queen Marie-Therese, wife of Louis XIV, could have had her pick of lovers. The one she chose - an African dwarf who was her servant - births questions about slavery, love and the meaning of history, along with a bastard daughter.
Lynn Nottage's Las Meninas makes its world premiere March 16 April 14 at San Jose Repertory Theatre. Michael Donald Edwards (The Smell of the Kill, Shopping and Fucking in San Francisco and L.A.) directs.
Rachel Luttrell recounts the story of Las Meninas as Louise, a young convent girl, who tells of her mother's forbidden passion for her slave and his quest for freedom. Nottage was inspired to write the historically based drama after researching the African presense in 17th Century Europe. Her other works include the popular Crumbs from the Table of Joy as well as Mud, River, Stone, Por' Knockers and Poof!.
Mercedes Herrero (Comic Potential, The Laramie Project, The Mandrake Root) stars as Queen Marie-Therese with Chicago actor Daniel Bryant as Nabo Sensuagli. Also in the cast are Carol Mayo Jenkins (By the Bog of Cats) as Queen Mother and Mother Superior, Ken Ruta as The Painter and The Doctor and Bren McElroy as La Valliere.
La Meninas features period dances staged by Carolyn Houser Carvajal of San Francisco Dance Spectrum with Marcus Cathey. Designing the show are Gordana Svilar (sets), B. Modern (costumes), Robert Jared (lighting) and Jeff Mockus (sound). Tickets are $20-$44. San Jose Repertory Theatre is located at 101 Paseo de San Antonio between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. For reservations, call (408) 367-7255. San Jose Repertory Theatre is on the web at http://www.sjrep.com.
— By Christine Ehren