Local play ‘Mariela in the Desert’ representative of Latinx communities

By Javier Lopez 

A new play by Karen Zacarías will have its Los Angeles debut on Friday, at CASA 0101, hoping to bring Latinx and women representation to the arts.

The word Latin(x) is a neutral way of saying the word latino or  latina, and helps make the term inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community.

The play is called “Mariela in the Desert” and has been critically acclaimed by the Washington Post.

Zacarías has won the National Francesca Primus Emerging Female Playwright award.

Some of the actors and the director spoke about how being from a low income community can kill the dream of becoming an artist for some people.

“The majority of people are working (class) people and don’t have a lot of money. You think about how they have to neglect the arts in order to live day by day” Robert Beltran, the director of the play said.

Kenneth Lopez, who plays the role of Carlos Salvatierra, hopes “Mariela in the Desert” inspires the audience.

Lopez wants the play and his performance to leave the audience astounded, with the opportunity to reflect on their lives afterward. Even if it is just “one person,” Lopez said.

Although, he hopes it is more than one.

Representing and showing that Latinx’s can be artists is a very important aspect of this play, said Vannessa Vasquez. Vasquez plays the role of Blanca Salvatierra.

She is known for her role in the television show, “East Los High.”

“We are Mexican. I’m Mexican. The show is based on a Mexican family, and I want Mexican kids out there that didn’t grow up like me, who don’t have similar experiences, to say, ‘Hey, I want to do that.’” said Vasquez.

Rachel Gonzalez, who plays the role of Mariela Salvatierra believes that people are now talking about how few Latinos are pursuing careers in the arts.

The actors and director said that after the experience of watching the play, they hope to allow the audience to turn, go home and reflect on.

Then, turn it into something positive and beneficial for their lives.

“We want them to leave feeling like they can create change in their lives,“ Beltran said.

Gonzalez shared a story of when a fan waited for hours to meet her backstage, just to give her appreciation for her work. The fan was ecstatic that the story being portrayed was one that they could relate to.

Vance Valencia, who plays the role of Jose Salvatierra insists that the play can have a huge impact on the audience. Valencia is also the creator of a new production company called the Angel City Theatre Ensemble.

“They will know how it  touched them and how they can relate to the various characters that are on stage, and how they mirror people that they know in their lives,” said Valencia.

“I think there is also a message within the play. It’s about discovering your children’s talents and nurturing them, and also your own talents,” Vasquez said.

Everyone who is working on the play is excited to be part of a project that represents Latinx communities.

“I never saw a lot of our stories being told, so I feel really honored that it is a Mexican story and that we get to share our culture in a     universal way,” Vasquez said.

Although the play is run by a Latinx cast and crew, the actors and director make it clear that the play is inclusive and is meant to be experienced by everyone.

Denise Blasor, who plays the role of Olivia Salvatierra, states that unity is important and this play portrays that.

“Yes, it just so happens that we are an all Latino cast, with a Latino director, a stage manager, in a fantastic theater that is a Latino Theater, but what is even better is that we can embrace much more,” Blasor said.

Valencia feels the same way. 

“Just because we are proud to be who we are it does not mean that we are excluding others,” he said.

Valencia and Josefina López, the founder and Artistic Director of CASA 0101, are bringing Zacarías’ play “Mariela in the Desert” to life.

“Mariela in the Desert” will have its Los Angeles Premiere on Friday, November 4, at 8:00 p.m on the main stage at CASA 0101 Theatre.

The play will have a five week run. It will be playing every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m and Sundays at 5:00 p.m from November 4 to December 11.

General Admission tickets are priced at $25, but students and seniors can get their tickets  for $20.

The tickets will only be $15 for Boyle Heights residents.

This can be shown through the address on an identification card or any other documents that show proof of Boyle Heights residency.

CASA 0101 is located on 2012 East First Street, Boyle Heights, California.

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