In the Time of the Butterflies is constructed in the framework of memory. Dede is telling her story to a Dominican-American writer who is writing it down to tell the world. It's a painful story, but a pleasant one too as Dede remembers the happy times with her sisters in their family's garden. The story is told partly through Dede's reminiscing, and partly through scenes of the sisters interacting with each other and reading diary entries. It starts when they are young girls with hopes and dreams, and continues as they see those dreams thwarted by El Jefe. He invites the sisters to a party, and when Minverva rejects his advances, he puts their father in jail and they are forever on his "naughty list." As the years advance, the sisters, especially Minerva who studies to be a lawyer but is prevented from practicing, become more and more involved in trying to end Trujillo's dictatorial reign. Youngest sister Maria Teresa joins her, and eventually so does Patria. Dede reluctantly gives the group a place to meet, but is concerned for her family's safety. And rightly so - Minerva and Maria Teresa are jailed and tortured. They are eventually released, but their story, along with Patria's, comes to a tragic end. Dede is left to deal with her feelings and represent the heroism of her sisters to the world.
|the Mirabel sisters|
This play is the second in a year of plays written by women produced by Mixed Blood* (written by Caridad Svich based on the novel by Julia Alverez). The first was the hilariously biting comedy Elemeno Pea by Molly Smith Metzler, and the remaining are TBA. I think this is a fantastically bold choice by Mixed Blood, but not surprising considering their commitment to diversity of all kinds, which is not just words but can be seen in every play they produce. As Artistic Director Jack Reuler notes in the playbill, "In our so-called liberal entertainment industry, the gender balance of writers, directors, and producers remains profoundly imbalanced. We are proud to walk our talk, practice what we preach, and live our mission in this arena." Right on. I'll be watching.
*My one complaint about Mixed Blood Theatre, which I admire more and more the more I see of their work, is that they consistently do not put artist bios in their playbills. As someone who likes to make connections between the many shows I see, I find this disappointing. But it's a very minor quibble for a theater that does such amazing and diverse work.