Real Women Have Curves, a production of Teatro del Pueblo, opened at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Community Center on Friday, May 9. About an hour into the play, the five women triumphantly shed their clothes and revealed their curves. The audience shared their glee because in doing so, the women were relieved—if only temporarily—of the constant pressures in their lives. The characters are likable, each actress perfectly chosen for her role, and we root for them to succeed.
Real Women Have Curves, a play written by Josefina Lopez and directed by Stephanie Acosta, presented by Teatro del Pueblo through May 29 at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Community Center, 179 Robie St. E., St. Paul. For tickets ($18) and information, see teatrodelpueblo.org.
Young Anna, a first-generation Mexican American, struggles to find a balance between her mainstream ambitions and her more traditional cultural heritage and upbringing. Anna, her mother, and two friends work for Anna’s sister Estela, owner and hard-driving boss of a hot and cramped garment factory. Despite each woman’s personal conflict—from poor body image to immigrants’ rights to financial strains—they are supportive of one another and willingly make sacrifices so each one can follow her dreams.
|Also in the Daily Planet, read Teresa Ortiz on Teatro del Pueblo and Jonah Winn-Lenetsky and Jennifer Holder on Teatro del Pueblo’s Political Theatre Festival.|
The play celebrates the power of women and the incredible bond that can happen when women work together. We never see the men, but the worries they cause the women are felt—although these worries are minor compared to the fear of being raided by immigration officials.
After the intermission, there is a response to the play—Post Performance Monologues—that the audience is invited to join. The actors, although out of character, represent their characters’ views as they flip through the pages of various popular magazines. They comment on fashion, models’ bodies, quizzes, and celebrities such as Britney Spears. According to Teatro del Pueblo artistic director Al Justiniano, this response was intended to be “a catalyst for further discussion about how society and media influence the way women see their own bodies.”
I think the response trivialized the play. My recommendation is to leave at intermission and go home and ruminate on the social issues that the play raises. For example, how many women are in abusive domestic relationships? How many women and girls work in deplorable conditions at low wages? How many undocumented workers are being exploited? How many illegal immigrants live in extreme fear of deportation?
Jennifer Holder contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.