The House on Mango Street is based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Mexican-American writer Sandra Cisneros, inspired by her own experiences growing up in Chicago. Like the novel, which Wiki tells me is a series of vignettes, the play does not present a linear plot, but rather a series of scenes depicting the main character's experiences with her family, school, neighbors, and friends. Playwright Amy Ludwig has adapted the novel, keeping much of the poetic language and narrative style of the book. Characters speak "he said" and "she wondered," as they simultaneously act out the descriptions. The main character is a charming and adventurous young girl named Esperanza, seen both as an adult reminiscing about her youth, and the child Esperanza as she lives the things she's describing. The two take turns narrating, sometimes interacting with each other. Esperanza and her family move into a house on Chicago's Mango Street which is nicer that the other places she's lived, but not as nice as she hoped it would be. Esperanza experiences many of the joys and troubles of growing up, making friends, testing boundaries, her first dance, death and grief, learning to walk in high heels, and men's reactions when she does. She deals with everything by writing, carrying a little notebook around in her bag and constantly pulling it out to jot things down. Somehow she knows that this will be her way out of Mango Street, although she eventually comes to learn that she'll never leave for good, and doesn't want to. She "leaves only so that she can come back."
|Adlyn Carreras and Alejandra Tobar|
as Esperanza (photo by Petronella Ytsma)
The House on Mango Street is a poignant and sweet coming of age drama. Even though it deals with a specific culture and place, the experiences of childhood and growing up depicted are universal (I was taken right back to my childhood with the Tootsie Roll jingle, a song I didn't even know I knew). Evening performances conclude on November 9, while student matinees continue through November 20. See the Park Square website to learn how your school or students can attend a performance.