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Theater department press release    Date: 2/23/09

Chilean Stories to Come to Life on Smith Stage

A scene from Cuentos de Eva Luna. (Photo by Jon Crispin.)

The Smith Department of Theatre will present the first theatrical adaptation of the best-selling and critically acclaimed novel Cuentos de Eva Luna (Stories of Eva Luna), by Chilean author Isabel Allende, with performances February 26 through 28 and March 4 through 7, at 8 p.m. in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall Center.

Tickets for Cuentos de Eva Luna are $8 for general public, $5 for students and seniors. March 4 is  “dollar night” for students.

Translated from Spanish, adapted for the stage and directed by Ellen W. Kaplan, professor of theater, the play brings to life five stories from the novel. Servant girl and passionate storyteller Eva Luna weaves magical tales of a woman who captivates a revolutionary hero with two words, a miserly two-timer who gets what he deserves, a circus showman who woos a lady with tricks and laughter, a mango-killer and two lovers who hide the crime, and a small girl trapped by a landslide.

“Eva Luna is a Latina Scheherazade who lives to create stories about love and danger,” Kaplan describes, “about rascals, outlaws, and revolutionaries, and about wildly vivid people who inhabit a South American world of truth and imagination.” Her many colorful characters include: Tomas Vargas, braggart and drunk; Rolf Carle, Eva’s lover, a man of compassion and dark secrets; and Riad Halabi, a Turkish traveler, who comes to Agua Santa and becomes its heart and soul. To create this world of transformation, actors play multiple roles, interweaving poetry, song, movement, and puppetry. Kaplan comments, “With elegance and agility, the stories leap across time and place to unveil the many sides of the heart.”

Isabel Allende, among Latin America’s most celebrate novelists, is the first Chilean woman writer to achieve international renown. Her style is often compared to the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Allende began her career as a journalist, and subsequently produced numerous novels, plays, memoirs and short stories. Her first novel House of the Spirits (1982), written while living in exile in Venezuela, became a best seller and brought her fame and critical attention. In 1987 she wrote the novel Eva Luna, about a servant girl with a glittering imagination and a huge heart. Two years later, Allende followed that novel with a sequel, Stories of Eva Luna.

Kaplan’s recent directing credits include Sisters Rosensweig at New Century Theatre, Bellow on Stage at The Egg, Albanay, N.Y., and With Dream Awakened Eyes, based on the work of Charlotte Salomon. She has translated several plays and has directed in Spanish in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. Kaplan also does extensive theatre outreach, working with women in prison, adult learners, special education students and teens.

For tickets or more information, call the Mendenhall box office: 413-585-ARTS (2787), or consult the performing arts calendar.


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