The best theater is the vehicle for a message that cannot be communicated any other way. Though words are powerful, they’re not all encompassing. Dancers dance to express concepts that cannot be fully encapsulated with words; singers sing to transcend words individually with the method of their delivery; painters paint to transform surfaces visually in a way that words simply can’t. Written by the impassioned Catherine Filloux and presented by La MaMa E.T.C., LUZ expresses issues of multinational and individual contention more elegantly and emotionally than lectures or articles on the subject could hope to.
The lawyer protagonist Alexandra, characterized by tightly-hemmed professional dresses and narrow countenance, counsels underprivileged women from Central America. She takes the case of Luz, a young woman, seeking asylum in the United States after escaping the garbage dumps of Guatemala and a job as a domestic worker to an incredibly abusive American military official. In this way the immediate struggles are personal to Luz and the audience. However, the world in which Alexandra operates is a multinational arena of politics, corporate interests and activists, shaped by the causes of an economic engine—fueled by oil, struggles of women to better their station in society, countries trying to mend the shattered pieces of their culture, and individuals attempting to regain control of their own lives. The sheer volume of ongoing issues integrated in LUZ is impressive, and well suited to the conventions of theater.
The action takes place ahead of a titanic pile of papers, a precarious mountain of files and folders, memos and manifestos, newsprints and notes. While it at first seems to be a trash heap, characters occasionally reach in and pull out pertinent documents. It’s a legal system overburdened by its own largess. Fluorescent lights hang from the ceiling of the space, giving the scenes in boardrooms and courts a feeling of sterility and unflattering modernism, contrasted by the warm hues employed by Yi Zhao for action taking place in Guatemala and Haiti. The design components are spot-on, and the woven narrative of the many characters tackles a multitude of issues from even more angles. In this way, the theatrical medium was a perfect choice for the call to action that is LUZ.
- Written by Shane Reader
LUZ is presented at La MaMa E.T.C.’s First Floor Theater, 74 E. 4th St.
Wed – Friday at 7:30pm, Sat at 2:30pm & 7:30pm, Sun at 2:30pm