Post-show panel explains Chicano influence, inspiration

DIRECTOR’S CUT—Director Cristina Frias and playwright Luis Alfaro gather with their cast. Courtesy of Cristina Frias.

By J101 student Arlyn Diaz-Nolasco

The “Electricidad” cast and playwright Luis Alfaro shared their experience showing Los Angeles culture through a Greek play adaptation with a modern, Chicano twist.

The lead director of the play Cristina Frias gathered all of the cast members and Alfaro to talk about the process of the play and answer the audience’s questions after the show on April 13.

Alfaro is the mastermind behind the play. He explained that almost 20 years ago this project came to life, and there have been at least 47 productions of it. 

Alfaro went in-depth about what inspired him.  

“I think the stories are about what we can do as a community. The Greeks do a great job of asking us the question, now it’s your job to create the answer,” Alfaro said.

Julia Chavez, the assistant director and choreographer for “Electricidad” detailed the research that went into choreographing the scene where the main villain of the story Clemencia, burns the body of Electricidad’s father.  

“I found through research how the Aztecs would make sacrifices, and I didn’t really connect it until the end. It’s still a way of Aztec sacrifice. 

I need to sacrifice this in order for this to happen. I need to sacrifice you in order for the world to run the way it’s supposed to run. This is what we need to do. 

So we incorporated all of those, and I think it blended together beautifully. Especially with the costumes and the mural back there was too foreshadowed throughout the whole thing. So that was my process,” Chavez said. 

The director’s note from Frias said that although it was inspired by Greek mythology, the show takes place in the 90s in East Los Angeles, a time when gang violence was at its peak. 

Chicanos and Latinos can relate to it because it gives them the representation of their people. So it makes them feel seen spiritually. 

An audience member asked how the cast got into their roles and how they added a bit of their experience into the characters. 

“I grew up in East L.A. you know right near the Family Dollar and the Commerce Center. So I have a lot of pride in it because this is where I come from,” Emily Williams, the protagonist for “Electricidad,” said. 

Maribel Chavez who plays Electricidad’s sister went in-depth about how she got into her character by channeling her own personal experiences. Her stepdad was murdered, and she left Utah and everything she knew in order to pursue acting. 

“I believe that I write to change the world.  So for me, it’s less about the art and more about what we can do with the art and how we can change the community,” Alfaro said.

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