Sangria Sunday Staged Readings Continue at Teatro Paraguas Studio, 7/13 & 27

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Sangria Sunday Staged Readings Continue at Teatro Paraguas Studio, 7/13 & 27

Teatro Paraguas will present two staged readings in July as part of the ongoing Sangria Sunday series: Welcome to Arroyo's by Kristoffer Diaz, and Yemaya's Belly, by Quiara Alegria Hudes.

WHAT: a staged reading of Welcome to Arroyo's, a play by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Roxanne Tapia
WHEN: Sunday, July 13 at 5:00 pm
WHERE: Teatro Paraguas Studio, 3205 Calle Marie
ADMISSION: Free, donations gratefully accepted
Reservations, info: 505-424-1601, teatroparaguas.org

WHAT: a staged reading of Yemaya's Belly, a play by Quiara Alegria Hudes, directed by Jonathan Harrell
WHEN: Sunday, July 27 at 5:00 pm
WHERE: Teatro Paraguas Studio, 3205 Calle Marie
ADMISSION: Free, donations gratefully accepted
Reservations, info: 505-424-1601, teatroparaguas.org

The Sangria Sunday informal play-reading series continues in July with two plays: Welcome to Arroyo's by Kristoffer Diaz, and Yemaya's Belly, by Quiara Alegria Hudes.

2010 Pulitzer Prize-finalist Kristoffer Diaz's Welcome to Arroyo's is a heartwarming story about a brother and sister finding their respective places in the world after the death of their mother. Alejandro is desperate to make Arroyo's the hottest lounge in New York to honor the memory of his mother, while Molly's desire to make her "mark" as a talented graffiti artist is at odds with her new infatuation with a rookie cop. Their struggle to move forward is made even more uncertain as they discover what might be a secret about their mother that could change the very foundation of their lives and, possibly, the history of hip hop music. Welcome to Arroyo's premiered at the American Theatre Company in 2010 under the direction of Jaime Casteneda.

When young Caribbean islander Jesùs reaches for his first bottle of ice-cold Coke, he recoils and drops it, as if it's stung him. Turns out this is his first encounter not only with Coca-Cola, but with refrigeration, and it will prove a bracing awakening. Jesùs's coming of age and into bigger worlds is the story of Yemaya's Belly, the winner of the 2003 Clauder Competition for New England Playwriting, by Quiara Alegria Hudes. As a result of winning a game of dominoes against his wily uncle Jelin and the village rum peddler Tico, Jesùs happens to be away in the city with his uncle, drinking that cold Coke, when his village burns to the ground and kills his parents. He won't stay in the village after that. He wants his name on a neon sign; he wants to stay in the fanciest hotel; he wants to meet America's President, and so steals back to the city. There he helps a woman named Lila run her grocery, sleeps on the shop's floor, and befriends the young port-rat Maya, whose mother once ran a business boating immigrants to America. He dreams nonstop of the land where there are, Maya tells him, "1000 different kinds of Coke."

To enliven what often come across as well-traveled tropes in Jesùs's developing-world narrative, Hudes infuses her play's sensibility and style with the bright rhythms of Caribbean spirituality. The "Yemaya" of the title is the maternal oceanic goddess of the Latin American/Afro-Cuban religion Santeria, a fusion of West African beliefs with the Catholicism of the New World's landowners. Hudes manifests elements of Santeria as a sort of mild magical realism, one that's more psychological than fantastical. It includes frequent, colorful interludes of ritualistic dance, the transubstantiation of the bodies of the dead into feathers and rice, a near-death dream sequence in which Jesùs finds heaven at the bottom of the ocean, and the visceral epiphany of Jesùs and his Coke.

Yemaya's Belly premiered at the Portland Stage Company in 2005.

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