Today marks the opening of the last production presented in the 2015/2016 season and a million cliches are swimming through my head about how time flies. I am so proud of the hard work, passion, and creativity that has gone into the past nine months of performances, conversations and events (read: parties). From my vantage point, the best and only way to end this adventurous season is with the Latino Theater Company‘s Premeditation.
Artistically the play intelligently lives in that beautiful place where comedy meets truth. I read the play shortly after hearing someone say that it would probably be easier to stay in their unsatisfying relationship than it would be to go through the drama of ending it. Evelina Fernandez takes this confounding and all too common situation and ups the stakes. In the play. Esmeralda decides to sidestep the difficult conversations and the divorce lawyer and hires a hit man. You have to respect someone who make up their mind.
The world of film noir Los Angeles is the perfect setting for this kind of behavior. A film professor once explained to me that film noir classics are all set in LA because when a city is located on the geographical edge of the country, the rules of society fall into the ocean and anything goes. As a Californian I probably should have been offended, but the phrasing was so perfect. Who knows, Raymond Chandler probably experienced a very different Los Angeles from mine. What makes this production stand out is its ability to flourish in the noir world while simultaneously turning it on its head. The sharp witticisms of Premeditation slice through its uber cool veneer, keeping it safe from pretentious trappings.
On a personal note, it means a great deal to me that this company is at ArtsEmerson with this show. So often artists of color are expected to only create work that focuses on the politics and struggles of their race which is not only limiting but also exhausting. Premeditation is a good story with smart humor and universal themes to which we can all relate. The play is written, directed, and performed by Latinx artists but the heart of it is about universal human relationships – not immigration reform or migratory farm work.
Last year I wrote a blog for HowlRound about my relationship with my Latino identity and in it I referenced a very important conversation I had with Jose Luis Valenzuela, the director of Premeditation. He pointed out that I was conflating Latino-ness with the media’s image of the “pobre Latino”. It was through the conversation that I learned the importance of seeing representation of my own culture beyond its marginalization. It’s an invaluable gift.
People are capable of so much more than the headlines and election-year issues with which we are often associated. The Latino Theater Company is bringing world class artistry from their edge of society to ours and I could not be more excited.
Premeditation performs at the Paramount Theater May 4- May 14. Tickets available at artsemerson.org