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Coming to freeFall theatre on May 20 and running through June 19 is a global debut, a collaboration between Urbanite Theatre in Sarasota and freeFall in St. Petersburg.


Coming to freeFall theatre on May 20 and running through June 19 is a global debut, a collaboration between Urbanite Theatre in Sarasota and freeFall in St. Petersburg. A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA tells the story of two spirit-hunting podcasters, the haunting of a potential bed and breakfast, and ghosts of generational trauma.

A graduate with a BFA in acting from Brooklyn College, playwright Rosa Fernandez has always loved live theatre but was disappointed that she seldom saw a character that looked like her on stage.

"I wasn't seeing roles or stories I was excited about, so I made a choice that it no longer brought me joy to pursue an acting career. I wanted to write the stories that I felt were lacking on the stage for the people who I felt weren't represented on stage. I decided I would unapologetically write for the people I wanted to write for - women of color."

Rosa is honored that the overall patron reaction to her show was people responding that they saw themselves on stage. She is eager for freeFall's audience to experience her powerful play as the initial positive reaction profoundly affected her.

"A young woman of color said, 'this play feels like home.' That's literally the best compliment you can get as a playwright. To write something that someone says this feels like me; that's huge for me. That's what I wanted. When it's actually happening, it's lovely and really humbling."

A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA was inspired by the paranormal shows Rosa watched growing up.

"I was always taken aback that no one has ever captured indisputable proof that entities are real. How are these shows going on for years, and we have not captured proof that you can show to scientists and they can say, 'yup, that's a ghost.'"

While that's where the play had its roots, it grew into a play centered around grief and the joy and healing women of color can find in one another.

"It's love in the context of grief," she said. "The play started with me asking the question, wouldn't it be cool if we captured indisputable proof of the supernatural on camera, but it deals with honoring your ancestors, talking about ghost-hunting within that context."

Directed by Patrice Amon, A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA stars Jen Diaz, Alisha Espinosa, Lorinda Hawkins Smith, and Maiya Reaves with Scenic Design by Jeff Weber, Lighting Design by Joseph Oshry, Sound Design by The Ragan Bros, and Costume Design by Carmen Amon

Rosa left the special effects vaguely described and up to the theatre's imagination.

"I thought what would be fun and cool for the designer to figure out. I wrote it with the energy that someone is going to figure this out in a way better idea than I can envision. It can be a different show wherever it goes."

Eugene Alcorn took on the challenge to feature spectacular paranormal effects in freeFall's production.

Rosa explained, "I don't need everyone to love my play. What I get more excited about is did I write a compelling-enough story that people are excitedly discussing it on the way home. That's my goal."

A SKEPTIC AND A BRUJA is at freeFall Theatre, 099 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. The play contains adult themes and brief adult language and is not recommended for young children.

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