|Theatre Department Production Depicts People Buffeted by Historical Events in Cuba and the USA
February 15, 2013
• For more insight into the play and its historical underpinnings, see the dramaturgy notes on Sonia Flew by Christine Noah '14.
• Play director Associate Professor Sharon Green and Associate Professor of Political Science Russell Crandall discussed the play and U.S. - Cuban relations on a recent edition of WFAE's public affairs talk show "Charlotte Talks." The show is available on the station's site.
|Davidson students (l-r) Cea Rubin, Brooke Brazer and Dylan Goodrum play lead roles in Sonia Flew. (Photo by Jordan Luebkemann.)
As the wall of political enmity between the United States and Cuba seems to be weakening, the Davidson College theatre production brings to the stage Sonia Flew, a drama in which historical events between the two countries creates tumult and uncertainty in the lives of ordinary people. The play, written by Wellesley College professor Melinda Lopez, won the Elliott Norton Award for best new play in 2009.
Sonia Flew will be presented in the Barber Theatre of Cunningham Theatre Center nightly at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, through Saturday, February 23, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 24. General admission seating is $10, or $8 for seniors and $5 for students. Call 704-894-2135 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for reservations, or make reservations online at www.davidson.edu/tickets. The play is recommended only for viewers age 12 and older.
Act one opens shortly following the 9/11 terror attacks. Sonia, the main character reacts with anger at her son's decision to leave college, enlist in the military and fight in Afghanistan. But she's also flooded with memories of her own childhood, and long-simmering bitterness toward her parents, who forced her as a young child to fly to America from her homeland of Cuba at the dawn of Fidel Castro's rule. She must find a way to come to terms with her past, her lost parents, her own children and her adopted country-or risk losing everything she loves.
The second act depicts her childhood in Cuba, and the family drama surrounding her parents' wrenching decision -- prior to Castro's prohibition on emigration - to put her on a plane flight to America to hopefully live a better life with relatives there.
Davidson Associate Professor of Theatre Sharon Green directs the play, which serves as the centerpiece for a month of academic and cultural events about Cuba at the college. Green said, "It is a brilliantly written play that engages with a specific moment in Cuban history without actually being solely about that moment. Instead, the play focuses on the family's struggles to navigate political upheaval, and the repercussions it brings to them and their next generation."
Green said playwright Melinda Lopez does a wonderful job of intertwining the political and the personal, and the past and present. In 1961 Havana, Sonia's parents fear sending her away, yet also know that it is in her best interests. In 2001 Minneapolis, Sonia fears saying goodbye to her son as he heads off to an equally uncertain future as a committed soldier.
"To me as a parent, this play is a reminder that relationships can be healed, and that our best hopes for our children sometimes aren't their own desires," Green said.
Davidson's decision in 2011 to approve Latin American Studies as an official interdisciplinary major prompted Green to consider producing a play about that region. She read dozens of scripts before settling on Sonia Flew. Once the theatre department approved the production, Green met with Latin American Studies Department Chair Jane Mangan to discuss programming possibilities. Green and Mangan invited faculty and students with interests in Latin American Studies to develop other events in the field that would provide additional educational value to the production of Sonia Flew.
Those collaborations have led to a full month of associated events, including a photo exhibit, small group luncheons, film series, dance demonstration and lectures. "That's the kind of educational model of cooperation across disciplines we like to promote at Davidson," Green said. "This is a small institution where you can get to know each other intellectually and personally, and that makes this type of collaboration possible. In this case the theatre department brought a wide range of people to the table, and we've ended up with a broad range of experts presenting many other aspects of the culture."
Faculty collaborators on the initiative include historian Jane Mangan, political scientist Russell Crandall, Spanish professors Luis Pena and Angela Willis, art professors Shaw Smith and Samantha Noel, and dance professor Alison Bory.
Senior Davidson senior Amelia Lumpkin plays the part of Sonia. Other members of the cast are Brooke Brazer '16, Tianna Butler '13, Dinah Decker ‘14, Dylan Goodman ‘16, Tom James ‘15, Wayne McPherson '13 and Cea Rubin ‘13.
Junior class theatre minor Christine Noah is involved as dramaturge on the production, providing research help to the cast. Set designer Chris Timmons and costume designer Carolyn Bryan examined old photos of Cuba in developing those aspects of the production. Lighting designer is Josh Peklo.
Sharon Green joined the Davidson faculty in 1999 with an expertise in theatre and social justice. She directed Clifford Odets' Depression-era play, Waiting for Lefty, and Nine Parts of Desire by the Iraqi-American playwright Heather Raffo. She said, "As a politically committed scholar and artist, I wanted to engage with issues that are important for our times."
Other plays she has directed at Davidson include Love of the Nightingale, Diary of Anne Frank and Goodnight Desdemona.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,900 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.