BWW Reviews: IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES at Teatro Paraguas Showcases Mirabal Sisters


Teatro Paraguas presents In The Time of The Butterflies, a new play by Caridad Svich, March 8 - 24, 2013 at the Teatro Paraguas Studio, 3205 Calle Marie, Santa Fe. Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 seniors and students; Sundays are pay what you wish.

For tickets and more information,

This past Saturday night I attended the production of 'In The Time of the Butterflies' at Teatro Paraguas here in Santa Fe.

The play focuses on the memory of the Mirabal sisters, who led part of the resistance against the dictator Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The sisters were assassinated in 1960.

TP's production is directed by Nicole Phelps and is a workshop production of the play in its English version (also by Caridad Svich). The play was originally commissioned by the Repertorio Español in New York City to be performed in Spanish.

Ms. Svich has constructed the play as a memory play, in which the second sister, Dede (who was not assassinated), recounts the memory of her sisters to an American writer of Dominican descent from New York. Karmela Gonzales portrays Dede, and Bernadette Peña plays The American Woman. Roxanne Tapia, Cristina Vigil, Juliet Salazar and Paola Martini play the four sisters. Rick Vargas plays multiple roles: Trujillo, a revolutionary, a chauffeur, and a disc jockey.

The simple staging of this particular production worked well, with the present day taking place off to the side, while the memories of the sister's youth were enacted center stage.

The director had a clear vision and communicated the story in a simple and understated way which was appropriate for the storyline.

Overall, the acting in this production was strong, with particular stand-out performances from Karmela Gonzales and Rick Vergas. Karmela Gonzales played the older sister who survived with tremendous grace and a powerful presence. She is an actor who appears in her natural element onstage and honestly did not strike a false or contrived note.

Rick Varges is clearly a pro. He navigated his multiple roles well and was particularly convincing as the General who would eventually lead to the sister's demise. He has charisma and talent that transcend this small town. Putting him in multiple roles was an interesting and inspired choice for the pleasure of the audience.

The thing I really liked about this play was that it educated me about a story that may otherwise not be shared in mainstream culture. The sisters lives and choices were difficult and courageous and the corruption/control patterns portrayed in the script are obviously and unfortunately still relevant.

These woman stepped out of their culturally prescribed roles in a Latin culture in the nineteen 50's to do what they felt in their heart was right, despite personal risk. That is an Universal story, but always appreciated.

For me, the one flaw in the script is that there is little dramatic tension as we all know the ending of the story right from the start. Biop-ic films often suffer with the same issue. I am not sure how to remedy it although a deeper sense of the woman's emotional connection to their lives and each other may have brought a feeling of greater poignancy and regret as they got into the car for the ride that would take them to their deaths.

The lighting and sets were nicely done and created a colorful tropical feel, even on a freezing winter evening.

Overall, this is a worthy production and worthy endeavor. I enjoyed my history lesson and appreciated the director and actors hard work it getting the story out to our community.

Continued kudos to Argos Macallum and the board of Teatro Paraguas who continue to mount small, original productions in this economic climate where everything new and innovative is a risk. I encourage you strongly to support them as they are one of the few theaters in Santa Fe willingly and continually offering the community something unique and necessary. Not to mention, a bi-lingual voice onstage in our multi-cultural town. This, in itself is no small feat.

The play runs through March 24, 2013 with performances Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.
Tickets are $15 general admission, and $12 for seniors and students. The Sunday matinees are pay-what-you-wish. Reservations may be made by calling 424-1601.

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