By Kevin Camargo
The play, “Chavez Ravine” offers a special experience in the history of Dodger Stadium and the communities that came before its construction.
Not only does the play educate the audience, but it also offers humorous, satirical and poignant scenes that go well together.
The play sold out on opening night on Friday.
It had three shows last weekend.
“Chavez Ravine” starts off with the opening game for the Dodgers in 1981, narrated by Vin Scully played by Saul Rodriguez.
The rookie pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, who is played by Javier Casique Jr., loses his focus on two people he sees on the field: Henry and Maria Ruiz.
The siblings begin to share their story with Valenzuela and how the land of Bishop, Palo Verde and La Loma were transformed into Dodger Stadium.
Henry and Maria Ruiz are played by Christopher Barajas and Gabriela Maldonado respectively.
“Henry comes from a personal heart growing up in the military family, especially in the marines,” said Barajas. “Playing someone who portrays a marine and coming from the same community really touches me deeply.”
Barajas said that he lives in Ramona Gardens, which was one of the homes that was mentioned in the script.
“It’s not to get people mad. (It’s) just to send the message (and) let them know that these things do happen,” said Barajas.
Throughout the play, there is the conflict between Henry and Maria, and the want versus need.
Henry wants to sell the house and leave, while Maria wants to stay in her house with their mother.
With the play portraying a serious part of history, there was a stunning balance of humor and entertainment added into it.
With that combination, the play’s satire helps get their message across throughout the play.
“It’s hard to read and keep up with things that are happening. But with satire, people know and laugh at the situation, but at the same time it sticks to them,” said Ángel Juárez.
Juárez mainly plays the watchman, who is the actual gentrifier and is perceived as the evil one in the play.
“Since I lived gentrification in Boyle Heights, it’s very prominent right now, and I saw how the families got kicked out. It was very real to me. It was crazy going through the whole play and knowing what was going on,” said Juárez.
One of the most astonishing parts of the play is the number of characters played by only nine cast members.
There are around 50 characters throughout the entire play.
The roles in the play were majority males, so females also have to act as male characters.
Beatriz Tasha Magaña, who plays male and female characters, said that it was a challenge to trade off characters based on sex and age.
Magaña said that her favorite character she plays is the female cub reporter because she was a female character to use the perky and seductive side of acting to get her story for the newspaper.
“When you research, and when you start to look for the truth and the honesty in the characters, that’s when it starts to flesh out and it becomes more natural. So it’s not that you’re acting and playing a character, you’re actually playing these real humans,” said Magaña.
The entire play is narrated by Manazar Gamboa, who is played by Edward Navarrete.
Gamboa speaks directly to the audience, but also takes part in the play directly.
As the play goes on, there is a constant change of live music and background images.
The musicians had some lines in the play and were incorporated in some way aside from music.
There is a perfect mixture of music and visuals to get the audience’s attention.
In the background, there are real images that were taken during that time.
Also, there was real footage of people getting dragged out of their houses and the houses being destroyed.
It was these types of heart wrenching images that grabbed the audience’s attention and see what people went through at the time.
“It was very important because people could actually see that it was real, instead of just telling a story that might not impact them that much,” said Magaña.
“Chavez Ravine” is written by Culture Clash and is being directed by Ramiro Segovia.
“For me, it’s just a blessing to be able to direct and present this,” said Segovia. “This is what I love to do. I love art. I love theater. I love telling stories and I love being in an educational environment.”
This is the first play Segovia has directed at East Los Angeles College. He hopes people get the chance to see the play.
“We’re so thankful to have someone who understands, and at the end of the day, direct actors because he knows what’s it like to be an actor,” said Barajas. “He guide(s) us, respectfully, to our objective, the message of the script.”
“Chavez Ravine” is a play that takes its audience into different experiences, stories and social issues.
From Henry handing Maria an umbilical cord to bury under their house, to using Frank Wilkinson’s real FBI warrant, the play goes into detail.
“We’re eliminating all possibilities of people not understanding what the message is. That way when we’re done with the play, the message gets across to each person in their own particular way,” said Barajas.
“Chavez Ravine” will have its final showings this weekend in the Proscenium Theatre.
Last shows are tomorrow at 8 p.m., Friday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are sold in the P2 building. $10 general admission, $8 for students with ASU card, and $12 at the door.