TR Robertson …Season Seventeen for New Village Arts has brought the first mainstage production of the new Pueblo Nuevo initiative, a new community outreach program celebrating biculturalism and bilingualism in Carlsbad and North County San Diego. The production, “Cloud Tectonics”, by award winning screenwriter and playwright Jose Rivera, will leave theatre attendees with much to talk about when leaving the theatre. This unusual love story has been referred to as “an apocalyptic love story”. Two actors and one actress will take theatre goers along a quick, 90 minute journey through a 40+ year love story mixing realism and mysticism leaving the audience to wonder, can love be timeless?
The play is directed by Herbert Siguenza, Playwright in residence for San Diego Repertory Theatre, making his NVA debut. He is also a founding member of the performance group Culture Clash, the most produced Latino theatre troupe in the United States. Siguenza interviewed playwright Rivera and discovered the story and mysterious female character from the play came about from a real experience Rivera had one rainy evening in LA and seeing a young pregnant woman waiting for a bus. This is the plays first appearance on the West Coast since it first appeared at the La Jolla Playhouse in 1995. Siguenza also has a number of his acrylic paintings hanging in the Foundry Gallery and the NVA lobby, including a painting featuring images from “Cloud Tectonics”.
Photos by Daren Scott
Jose Rivera is the first Puerto Rican screenwriter to be nominated for an Oscar. In 2002 he wrote the screenplay for “The Motorcycle Diaries”, a movie about the adventures of a young Che Guevara and his friend taking a long road trip in South America and the effect it had on him. Rivera was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. He has said major influences in his life came from Nobel Prize winner, Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez who wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude. Rivera incorporates many personal experiences into his plays and many past influences he had growing up in a small American town as a Puerto Rican. He also said he has been influenced by his family, his spirituality and the occult. Rivera has won 2 Obie Awards, a Norman Lear Writing Award and a Fulbright Arts Fellowship.
Jose Balistrieri plays Anibal de Luna, making his professional theatre debut at NVA. Balistrieri brings a compassionate, tender approach to the lead role. The role of Celestina del Sol is played by Nadia Guevara, a member of the NVA staff as the Associate Artistic Director. She has been in numerous NVA productions and brings a compassionate, but mysterious, approach to the complex character of Celestina. The role of the angry, aggressive brother, Nelson de la Luna, is played by Javier Guerrero. Guerrero is based in San Diego and has worked in productions in San Diego and in a number of television spots.
The basic story line from “Cloud Tectonics” involves a young, pregnant woman at a bus stop on a night in LA featuring an “apocalyptic” rain storm. A young LAX baggage handler, Anibal de la Luna, stops by and offers her a ride, which will lead to offering her a place to stay and dry out. Anibal finds out her name is Celestina del Sol. unusual things begin to happen in Anibal’s apartment, clocks and the television no longer work. Anibal is a decent, well-meaning and very confused young man. The longer Celestina stays and tells him her story, the more confused he gets, including finding out the young Celestina is over 50 years old and has been pregnant for 2 years. Celestina tells him, “Time and I don’t hang out together”. To make matters even tenser for Anibal, his brother, Nelson, mysteriously arrives after a 6 year absence from Anibal’s life, wearing an outfit fitting for a “Mad Max” film. The brother is crass, aggressive, a sexist, a soldier getting ready to deploy to Syria. The brother quickly falls under the spell Celestina has cast in the apartment. He professes his desire to marry her and as quickly as he arrives, he is gone.
Celestina and Anibal will become more romantically involved during the evening and like Nelson’s quick departure, Celestina will leave Anibal’s life. The next time we see Nelson, he returns from Syria and Anibal finds that 2 years have passed, 2 years that Anibal does not remember. Anibal thinks it has been just one evening of time, not 2 years. The final scene finds Celestina back at the bus stop in the rain, stepping out and speaking to the audience telling a tale that seems to be something out of a “Twilight Zone” meets “X Files” moment. A tale of “The Big One” hitting LA, massive changes in the United States, and LA now being the Capitol of the United States. We fast forward 40 years and find Anibal now suffering from dementia, in a rest home and receiving a visit from the young Celestina, now with her child. Celestina tells him, “Oh, let me remember you as you were then, even before you existed”.
This tale of timeless love features an impressive set. The stage is surrounded by plastic umbrellas and even though Anibal’s apartment has minimal furniture, shelves of large plastic water bottles can be seen even with the torrential rain coming down. In the back of the apartment is a raised bed, looking much like it is enveloped by clouds. Symbolically, we are led to think that just like cloud tectonics, clouds can reshape and re-form in a variety of ways, so too can love. Anibal and Celestina climb ladders to reach the bed, perhaps a religious reference of ascent for their “heavenly” evening. In a final ending, Anibal will speak to his love of a lifetime.
This is a most unusual play. One that will leave you pondering just what the playwright intended for you to take away as you leave; what is this thing called love and the magical wonder that surrounds it? After all, the last names of de la Luna and del Sol must have something to do with “Cloud Tectonics”. Siguenza is assisted by Stage Manager Kymberli Skye, Costume Designer Carmen Amon, Lighting Designer Paul Canaletti Jr., Scenic Designer Christopher Scott Murillo and Properties Designer Michelle Stann
This production will be playing until February 25th at NVA on 2787 State Street in Carlsbad. Tickets can be purchased by calling 760-433-3245 or go to www.newvillagearts.org. Next up for NVA is “Men on Boats” by Jaclyn Backhaus, beginning on March 31st.