Fullerton College Theatre Arts Department explores death, tragedy and motherhood in its virtual show titled “La Llorona,” debuting May 6 – 8 and closing May 13 – 15.
The show is an online experience including videos, letters and web pages that are used to tell the story of four women who all have experiences with death. It is much more inspired by the story of the Mexican folktale as opposed to being an actual retelling.
“It’s a modern retelling, inspired by La Llorona story. We are taking a look at the themes more than the actual plot. The themes of motherhood, grief, loss and creating a story, ” instructor Miguel Paredes said. “The students created the story. I was more the director and facilitator. They actually wrote everything… which is pretty amazing.”
Paredes added that the challenge they faced was replacing the in-person theater environment with a digital medium due to COVID-19. Thus, the show experimented with its storytelling.
The website may seem a bit difficult to maneuver through at first, but with a bit of patience, the viewer can start to get an understanding of how the overall story is being told.
The mood of each story is somber and serious. The story strays away from the horror genre of the original folklore and instead focuses on the tragedies that happen to each of the four women.
Sabrina Llorente, played by Percilla Lawson, is a mother whose son Juan, played by Matt Quintero, joins the military despite her pleas for him not to enlist.
Isabella Castro, played by Tara Sanchez, is a mother whose son Erick Castro, played by Mikey Martinez, is on death row for a crime he committed.
Maya Willow, played by Olivia Oakley, is a young dance student who goes through an unexpected pregnancy.
At the end of the show, three of the four women take part in a “drama therapy” session that the viewer participates in through Zoom. Attending this is pivotal to fully understand the stories and getting the full theater experience, as the actors are all in character during the session.
It can be somewhat difficult for some audience members to recognize that the session is part of the theatrics of the show though it is the final act, where all the stories tie in together.
The cast members, who are all friends in real life, bounce back between one another casually, allowing their characters to be human and feel fleshed out. Sanchez also mentions how the improvisational factor allows for every night’s session to be unique.
Audience member Amanda Delgado was also shocked to find that the Zoom session involved actors in character and was not actually real.
The actors and director all laughed and applauded their efforts after hearing her reaction, with Paredes commenting “That’s theatre!”
Fullerton College Theatre Arts Department La Llorona is being shown May 13 – 15 at 7 p.m. To watch the show and for more information, visit the production website.