Mixed Blood Theatre’s final play of the 2007-8 season is Uruguayan playwright Jacobo Langsner’s Esperando la Carroza. The satirical play, performed in Spanish with English supertitles, is Mixed Blood’s 10th annual bilingual production. These annual productions bring in approximately 5,000 Spanish-learning students from around Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa each year.
Esperando la Carroza, a play presented by Mixed Blood Theatre from April 19-27 at SteppingStone Theatre, 55 Victoria St. N., St. Paul. For tickets ($11-$28) and information, see mixedblood.com.
Langsner’s play focuses on a needy octogenarian with three adoring married sons. She becomes increasingly burdensome to her three daughters-in-law—one poor, one middle-class, and one affluent. When Mamá Cora (Sylvia Pontaza) disappears and is mistaken for dead, the family’s personal scandals, greed, and hypocrisy play out in a fast-paced, comic portrait of spiritual and moral decay.
“For the past 10 years, we’ve produced plays in Spanish with bilingual casts, creating an arena in which Latinos and Anglos can merge in the audience and on stage,” says artistic director Jack Reuler. “Consistent with that vision, Esperando La Carroza melds South American immigrants, American Latinos, and Anglos in a class system comedy that is simultaneously political and entertaining.”
Raul Ramos and Nora Montañez join Pontaza on stage as Antonio and Nora, the middle class son and daughter-in-law of Mamá Cora. Ramos has been a key figure in Mixed Blood’s bilingual productions, both as an actor and as a translator/adapter, since 1997. Pedro Bayon (a veteran of Mixed Blood’s bilingual productions) and Jennifer Maren (currently appearing in Mixed Blood’s Love Person) are featured as Jorge and Susan, the upper class son and daughter-in-law. The third brother and sister-in-law duo, Sergio and Verónica, are played by Ric Oquita and Maggie Bofield. Oquita was seen in Mixed Blood’s first bilingual production (1998’s La Verdedera Historia de Coca-Cola en Mexico) and was most recently seen in 1999’s La Nona. Rounding out the cast is Amaya Alonso Halifax as Ana, Sergio and Verónica’s 16 year-old daughter.
In addition to his many plays, Langsner’s filmography includes Cohen vs. Rosi, Besos en la Frente, Sofia and Bad Company. His work is nuanced and funny, and this outrageous Spanish-language farce promises to be entertaining. Esperando la Carroza translates roughly as Waiting for the Pallbearers, and it found its way to the big screen in 1986. The play only has four public performances, so get your tickets quickly.
Michael J. Opperman is a writer based in the Twin Cities. His poetry, fiction and reviews have appeared in the New Hampshire Review, Coe Review, MARGIE Review, and Rain Taxi. During the day, he works in the interactive space at Clockwork Active Media Systems.