In the famous fairy tale, Cinderella talks to her mother’s spirit in a tree sprouted from her tears. This ancient feminine image is effectively incorporated in Westmont College senior Diana Small’s new play Mueveme, Muevete (Move Me, Move You). Small blends the elements of magic and realism by weaving together the memories of her Chicana protagonist with her struggle to establish a firmly rooted identity.
The scenic and lighting design by Michael Pierce transformed Small’s main symbol into the beautiful centerpiece of a large, illuminated metallic tree extending its veiled branches. For Aideth (Anna Lieberman), a young Chicana living in California, canning peaches from this tree not only is a family tradition, but also creates a deeper connection with her ancestors, who seem to reside inside the fruit itself. At times, the tree became Aideth’s sacred place-an altar where she can pray and ask for guidance. When she exclaimed, “I don’t want forgiveness, I want freedom!” her ambivalent relationship with the women in her family, many of whom abandoned their husbands and children, was revealed. The ghosts of her aunts, Dolores Juan (Carolyn Heine) and Dolores Simon (Marie Ponce), hover around, reminding her of their longing and unfulfilled dreams. They too speak of the old pain (“dolor” in Spanish) and fear of the matrilineal fate, although their memories of happy times, like when the twins were conceived under the tree, bring the lightness and humor to their reminiscing.
Lieberman, a Westmont senior and a scenic artist, convincingly portrays Aideth’s melancholy determination to set herself free. Initially playing a repressed woman whose plain clothing is chastised by the spunky Aunt Dolores Simon, Lieberman expresses anger and release in the climactic scene of Aideth’s internal change. Sarah Halford, also a Westmont theater arts senior, delivers another successful role as Fay, the entitled wife of the wealthy peach cannery owner. In one of the less surreal scenes in the play, Aideth and Fay connect in an unadorned moment of truth (aided by a few drinks) as two women with similar struggles, regardless of their class or culture.
Mueveme, Muevete is a bilingual play, with approximately 30 percent of the text performed in Spanish. One doesn’t have to speak Spanish to understand the emotion of these poignant words. At La Casa de la Raza (Mar. 5-7), two monologues will be delivered in Spanish only. Although Small’s play, directed by Westmont’s Chair of Theatre Arts Mitchell Thomas, explores the issues of cultural integration and familial identity, it dramatizes the universal need of an individual to be whole.