SF BATCO News Posted Courtesy of Wright Enterprises Community Spotlight~~~
San Francisco-The current production of "Death and The Artist" carries a fluid storyline with themes of life, death, human relatability, and learning to find life's purpose despite all the trials. The original play made its debut 20-years-ago at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, where it is currently running through Sunday, November 3rd with performances 8 p.m. tonight, 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, "Dia de Los Muertos" and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. It is a Theatre Bay Area Recommendation Production Award winner and will be feted on Monday.
"Death and The Artist" was written in response to the heavy issues taking a toll in San Francisco, including immigration, poverty, economic disparity, and politics in 1999. Playwright Carlos Baron wrote the show to expose those themes in a comedic way, allowing audience members to feel comfortable sharing a laugh with eye-opening realizations of unresolved problems happening in society.
"We are redoing this play from 20 years and we are still facing the same issues," said actress Mercedes White, who plays Miseria (misery), the sister of lead character Pobreza (Poverty). "I want people to feel compassion. This land was taken from the Mexicans, who were here in California first and now, ironically they are sort of kicked out of the country that was theirs."
The 90-minute show is a Latin folk tale about an old Californio and ex-coyote named Pobreza (Poverty) who saves himself from dying by tricking Death up a tree. Suddenly, an already-chaotic world ultimately faces life without death and it's not as simple or a paradise as one would think.
Throughout the show, Pobreza has several encounters with many characters whose identity he doubts, including Our Lord, Gentleman Lili, and St. Peter. He allows each to help him make the decision to face life's challenges in a mind-jolting, risk-taking way.
"Death and The Artist deals with heady subjects indeed, but the basic intent of this 2019 production remains: we want people to laugh," said Baron; "But we also want them to think, to be so impacted by the show so that they'll continue talking about it long after the curtain falls."
The multicultural cast embodies the important issues affecting the world we live in, making them relatable to people from all backgrounds.
"The entire cast was 100% people of color," said actor Alfred Muller, who portrayed "Pobreza." "It was something I never get to see often. Getting to work with people that share the same similar references was amazing."
The audience was encouraged to dress up for Halloween for the October 31st performance.
As Latino Heritage Month was celebrated in October and running through the recognitions of Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos, "Death and the Artist" is a perfect play for the season but it doesn't quite live up to its name. Far from being dead, it is lively and energetic in contrast to the title that included "death."
CEO of Trippie (https://trippie.co), Ryan Diew, a millennial, who has appeared on Shark Tank, attended the special Halloween production and recommends "Death and The Artist" along with Theatre Bay Area. "I had such a good time at the play last night. I really loved how it was so relatable to things going on today and it was very well done," said Diew.
Diew's attendance and enjoyment aligns with BATCO's Board President Mecca Billings comments three weeks ago on opening night affirming the inclusive and age diverse audience. "It's great to see an audience of all races, ages, genders and that's why the board is enthusiastic to get behind the company and it's mission," said Billings.
There is still time to catch the last three performances this weekend. For details and ticket information about "Death and the Artist," visit www. http://www.sfbatco.org/.
By Gabriela Mascoll
San Francisco Bay Area Based Freelance Writer
2019 Sacramento State University Communication Graduate