Full confession: As I’ve been tasked with the challenge of blogging about La Isla en Invierno (The Island in Winter for you non-Spanish speaking folks) I have straight up procrastinated. (That sound you hear is the sound of my middle school and high school teachers sighing in unison.) Not only am I an admittedly terrible self-promoter but I am also naturally introverted (ironic for an actor I know).
I don’t like to hype up shows when I don’t feel it’s warranted but this one truly feels special. The blending of worlds, Carlos’ (the playwright) mash-up of Shakespeare and Cuban culture, somehow brings this sense of things coming full circle. And dare I say it? Magic.
Originally I wasn’t even going to audition for this show. I knew B & B was looking for equity actors (which I am not) and I figured they weren’t really going to take me seriously. So, I’m working another show when the director says to me, “Hey, I saw this audition notice. I really think you should go for it.” Despite his insistence, I hemmed and hawed for a couple of days, when I get an email from Yasmin (our assistant director) asking if I can audition for her and Scott in two days. In the span of four days I’ve gone from “I’m not going to audition” to “I guess I’m learning a couple of monologues and presenting them?”
Maybe it was fate or just blind stupid luck but I’m offered the role of Polisteno, basically only knowing the rough outline of the story. I go to the first read through and the play is beautiful. It has all these elements that as an actor, I immediately start breaking down the question, “how am I going to pull this off?”
Growing up in a Puerto Rican household, similar in many respects to Cuban culture, means so much of this play resonates within me. I see my parents in the yearning for the homeland. I see some of my younger self in Florizel, Americanized in part but still adhering to cultural norms from the motherland as well. I discovered my grandmother knows at least a little about Santeria during that first read through. (¿Mamá, tienes secretos?) Throughout my youth, I have often felt like Perdida, with my Puerto Rican heritage not quite adding up nicely with my life in the states.
And now here I am, a week from opening, thinking about my peers and this process of putting on La Isla and I can only smile. As Artistic Director Scott Palmer prepares for his next adventure, several of us prepare for our debut at B & B. Artists with varying levels of experience and coming from different cultural backgrounds, have come together to put on this piece. From those who speak little to no Spanish (or English) to those of us in the middle of that spectrum, we’ve collectively gone on a journey together. And when that moment comes where audience and performer alike, breathe in one another’s radiance, I hope you’ll come on that journey with us.