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The Guest House (Mala’s Coda)




co·da \ˈkō-də\

  • : an ending part of a piece of music or a work of literature or drama that is separate from the earlier parts
  • : something that ends and completes something else


On the final page of Melinda Lopez’s manuscript for Mala, is the following note to the production:

“(coda—the coda doesn’t have to be anything. Or maybe it’s a projection in the dark. Or just an idea in the mind of Mala.)” It is followed by Rumi’s beautiful poem, The Guest House.

We include it here because many of you may not have seen it or read it at the theater and we feel certain she’s right that it is related to the experience of the play. We toyed with a variety of ways to include it inside the experience and all felt heavy handed. (On the first page of the manuscript, Melinda wrote, “Everything needs a light touch. Super, super light.” So something that felt heavy at the end of all the light was very unsatisfying. We landed on the idea of projecting the poem as the final moment of the talkbacks which follow each performance. So, it’s included in the event, but not inside the story.

Read the poem and contemplate it a bit. You’ll see how right Melinda was about it belonging with the journey of Mala.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.




Mala runs through NOV 20th at Emerson/Paramount Center.


  1. Viviana PlanineNovember 6, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    I loved it! I lost both my parents in 2013, they died a month apart. The play made my relived those moments and after 3 years I could process them. Thank you for the healing, Melinda Lopez. Your sharing your story is a gift for your audience. For your mother you were “mala”, for my mother I was “cattiva”!

  2. I saw the play yesterday and it was so absolutely moving. I first heard an interview with Melinda on WBUR radio last week and was so drawn in and could so relate, I knew I had to see this play. I, too, cared for my mother at the end of her life. Those eight months of being her primary caregiver and my mother living with us, though being the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced, also ended up being the biggest gift I could have asked for. I honestly felt like it was like being on an ’emotional roller coaster’. Melinda beautifully explored all of those emotions. And Rumi’s The Guest House has always been my favorite poem because of this powerful message of ‘welcoming and entertaining’ all that comes our way. I am so very happy to have experienced this show and I thank you for honoring this journey.


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