Frustrated with the lack of complex roles for women of color, senior Mary Morales searched for a play that would be fun, challenging and empowering for actors like herself.
She found what she was looking for in Confessions of Women From East L.A., a series of eight monologues by Josefina Lopez.
“I never got to play something I could relate to, so my main goal was to provide that for other women of color. If that meant directing, then that was what I was going to do,” said Morales.
After opening on April 21, Confessions played to sold-out audiences for three nights.
The actors, Patricia Contreras Flores, Gloria Espinosa, Annie Flores, Cinthia Lozano, Erika Martinez and Gina Padilla each performed one monologue and Crystal Mitchell played two.
Although half the cast had no prior acting experience, each piece was entertaining and thought-provoking. It was clear that all involved were committed to this labor of love.
Flores started the show with a bang as she strutted across the stage clad in a purple cape embroidered with the letters “SL” (Super Latina). Playing a successful business woman earning six figures per year, Flores taught young Latinas how they too could own a Mercedes Benz. Her performance was so compelling that many are now wondering if Flores’ next step should be Hollywood.
Espinosa, who should also be thinking about an acting career, played a young political activist. Struggling to speak at the beginning of the monologue, the character gained confidence as she shared a letter written to Frida Kahlo. Espinosa then eloquently relayed an ardent speech against Prop 187.
While passionately espousing her revolutionary beliefs, graduate student Martinez’ character was moved to tears.
Lozano played a street vendor who shared insight on immigration policies. Contreras Flores worked hard to take on the character of a self-defense instructor. And Mitchell reminded me of my tia (aunt) as she went on and on about her addiction to novellas.
Each piece had something the audience could relate to their own lives. However, there were those who felt a bit uncomfortable at times with racist language and the perpetuation of stereotypes.
For example, Padilla’s monologue about a Latina trying to pass for Japanese was full of Japanese stereotypes.
When questioned about the lack of political correctness, Morales responded, “That was the point. Humor is used as a tactic to counter stereotypes.”
Overall, the play was funny, emotional, inspiring, funny, offensive, entertaining and…did I say funny? I suppose it couldn’t be affiliated with Mills Players if it wasn’t full of humor.
When asked about working with Morales, Espinosa said, “Mary is phenomenal!”
So, there you have it folks! To have a great production, you need a controversial play, actors without much acting experience, a school that has no drama department, a talented tech team and a phenomenal director!