Originally published in Gozamos.
“Destiny of Desire” Is ‘Unapologetically Feminist and Unapologetically Latinx,’ Playwright Says
Thought I’d share this post I wrote about a cool play happening in Chicago. 🙂
The Goodman Theater will present “Destiny of Desire,” a telenovela-inspired comedy written by Karen Zacarías and directed by José Luis Valenzuela, both award-winning theater mavens.”Destiny of Desire,” which is performed in English with songs in English and Spanish, combines live music and humor to send a subversive political message about women, Latinos, and telenovelas. “Destiny of Desire” is set to run in Chicago from March 11 through April 16.
“’Destiny of Desire’ is about taking the telenovela, deconstructing it, celebrating it, breaking its myths and breaking new territory,” says Zacarías, who has been hailed by the National Endowment for the Arts as the most-produced Latina playwright in the country. “ There is a message underneath. I’m talking about the roles of Latinos in American society and the role of women taking their destinies into their own hands.”
Inspired by Greek drama, the play tells the story of two baby girls—one rich, the other poor–who are secretly switched at birth by a scheming former beauty queen. Eighteen years later, the girls meet.
Zacarías says she wanted to take the telenovela to the stage because telenovelas are often an “overlooked maligned art form.” “Telenovelas are the most popular form of entertainment in the world today. But, very often the word telenovela is used in a denigrating way to describe other pieces of art or theater, or acting done by Latinos.”
“We are trying to demystify what telenovelas are like,” says Valenzuela who has directed critically acclaimed productions at major theaters, both internationally and nationally. Telenovelas have been somewhat diminished in the role that they play in public culture. “Destiny of Desire” will challenge your perception of what American theater is about, [and] what Mexicans are about…”
After the rehearsal that Gozamos was invited to be a part of, conversations led to recent issues faced by Latinos and immigrants in the U.S, such as President Trump’s plan to builda wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Zacarías stated that she hopes “‘Destiny of Desire’ further changes the narrative of both Latino artists and Latinos in America.”
The play also addresses unrealistic portrayals of women by taking some of the traditional telenovela tropes to an absurd place. Zacarías describes a scene in the play where a woman gives birth while wearing 6-inch heels dripping in jewels rather than sweat. At the end of the play, Zacarías shares that there is also a big monologue about the impossible pressure women face trying to uphold the telenovela image of women.
“I hope people will come and be deeply entertained, but also understand that there are so many messages about gender, class, and race at the same time,” explains Zacarías.
The cast includes Esperanza America, Elisa Bocanegra, Eduardo Enrikez, Evelina Fernández, Fidel Gomez, Cástulo Guerra, Ricardo Gutierrez, Ruth Livier, Mauricio Mendoza, Ella Saldana North and Rosino Serrano.