Miracle Theatre Group Presents Conversation Series This May


In May, Miracle Theatre Group presents playwright Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus el Rey. The classic Greek play is re-set in modern L.A., where Oedipus’ rise to power happens within a gang “kingdom”, illuminating the prevalence of youth who enter gang life due to the perception that it is their unavoidable destiny. Focusing on the ruthlessness within a Chicano gang, Alfaro presents a realistic display of tragic self-fulfilling prophecy. This modern take on a classic will engage a fresh conversation about how we understand such youth and their families. Gang crimes have grown steadily in the Northwest and new strategies for intervention and prevention are currently tested in justice, education and social service agencies.

The Oregon Humanities conversation series, to be held at El Centro Milagro (525 SE Stark St., Portland), will follow each Sunday matinee performance. Miracle will host community leaders, social service professionals and scholars to provide an initial exploration of the topics; the discussions will then open up to audience questions and commentary. The three conversations will be free and open to the public; guests need not have attended the preceding matinee to participate in the Oregon Humanities conversations.

Sunday, May 6, 4:15 p.m.: Exploring Myth of Fate

In the culture and drama of ancient Greece, playwright Luis Alfaro found resonance for the modern cycle of gang involvement. He chose to work with Sophocles’ classic, Oedipus the King, as the foundation for his Oedipus el Rey (“Rey” in Spanish means “king”). What beliefs about fate did the Ancient Greeks hold as truth? What parallels did playwright Luis Alfaro draw between the Oedipus story and modern gang life? What can we learn from the history of the ancient Greeks?


Luis Alfaro, playwright  [invited]

Elizabeth Huffman, director

Dr. Richard Wattenberg, Professor of Theatre, Portland State University

Olga Sanchez, Artistic Director, Miracle MainStage (moderator) 

Sunday, May 13, 4:15 p.m.: The Lure of Gangs

In Oedipus el Rey, young men seek power within the only society in which they thrive. With power earned by violence and ruthlessness comes the respect and financial gain they cannot achieve elsewhere. Payment for this behavior includes imprisonment and alienation from mainstream society, but the attraction remains strong.

What “romantic” notions draw young people to gang life? What strategies keep youth from getting involved? Can these be further implemented by a larger community? 


Elena García Velasco, Portland’s Teacher of the Year, Spanish English International School/Roosevelt High School

Angel Ocasio, Officer, Portland Police Bureau

Dr. Carlos J. Crespo, Community Health & Public Affairs, Portland State University [invited]

Olga Sanchez, Artistic Director, Miracle MainStage (moderator)

Sunday, May 20, 4:15 p.m.: A Gangster’s Destiny

Laius, the king, passes down the legacy of gang culture to his son in Oedipus el Rey, further nurtured by the friends and family. There seems to be no support or guidance for seeking a lifestyle other than this one. Young people who have entered gangs often feel they must continue along this path until their death. How does gang life affect a young person’s perceptions of themselves and society? How do young people choose to leave gangs? What are the most recent schools of thought around intervention, which strives to provide other models of social engagement for former gang members?

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