The press release started with the quote, “We are all travelers, Brother. Our journeys take place inside.” That truth is often expressed in this enlightening and entertaining experience that will keep you pondering the practical, historical, and ethereal aspects of your own lifescape long after the play is over.
By Carol Edger Germain
The playwright, Juan Alfaro, has brilliantly woven his personal background and experience into the story in a way that makes the audience relate and reflect. The setting is on the California coast, at a monastery which is losing its funding from the Vatican but is still assisting the lost and hopeless, not only with basic humanitarian needs but with quick-witted humor as well. (I admit that when I read the general announcement of the tragic circumstances of the characters, I wondered what could be funny, but trust me, even when these characters don’t see eye-to-eye, they share their sense of humor).
The basic set on the stage is simple, large mounds of brown dirt, which I imagined to be hills, with tall votive candles spaced throughout. The projections on the back of the stage were faint, floaty, and continuously slowly morphing. These projections included various wise, curious, and thought-provoking statements, which were extremely effective in moving us to the next challenge or predicament of the characters, but once you get the preliminary facts, every scene and situation plays to each audience member’s personal life experience.
The characters include Brother Santo (Sean San José), left on the doorstep when he was ten; Brother Daniel (Daniel Duque–Estrada), a former clown from Zacatecas, Mexico; Brother Nancho (Kinan Valdez), an agricultural worker escaping the hot fields; Brother Yiyo (Guillermo Yiyo Ornelas), a Bay Area free spirit ; Brother Ogie (Ogie Zulueta), an innocent who has lived his life in the bathtub; and Brother Juan (Juan Amador), the traveler, soon to be handyman, who shows up with a bullet wound.
The play opens with Juan bleeding and stumbling into the monastery. He ends up in a monk’s robe, not that he has been religiously anointed, but because that’s all they have. He is not coddled, though, as he is guided through his “issues,” and is advised to endure the pain, which he accepts and handles after being assured that “We minister to those in need, but not in an urgent care kind of way.” Ogie has believed that his legs don’t work and that is why he has been relegated to living in the bathtub (which is right next to the only toilet, so each newcomer must adapt to being “up close and personal” while attending to their hygiene).
Unique and personal (whether you want it to be or not), you will likely have a personal connection with one or more of the characters and situations. This is a wonderful way to spend an evening.
An extra treat is hanging out in the lobby of the Los Angeles Theater Center, an amazing building which was Security National Bank many decades ago, and although it has been rearranged slightly to accommodate several performance spaces, the architecture has been retained. Be sure to arrive early to enjoy it for a few minutes. Convenient parking garage right next to the building.
The Travelers Written by Luis Alfaro. Directed by Sean San José, based on original direction by Catherine Castellanos. Starring Juan Amador, Daniel Duque–Estrada, Guillermo Yiyo Ornelas, Sean San José, Kinan Valdez, Ogie Zulueta. Produced by Latino Theater Company in association with the Magic Theatre and Campo Santo. Los Angeles Theatre Center 514 South Spring Street L.A. CA 90013 Through 10/15 Thurs., Fri., Sat. at 8:00 pm Sun. at 4:00 pm Tickets: latinotheaterco.org or (213) 489-0994
We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.
Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.
While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.
You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.
Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)