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FTT presents new play at DPAC

Brenna Williams | Sunday, November 13, 2011

In everything it does, Notre Dame loves being a campus of “firsts.” This week the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT) will present the first workshop production of Anne García-Romero’s newest play “Provenance,” giving the Notre Dame community a chance to be its first audience.

“Provenance” is about two sisters who receive a stolen painting that was made by their Mexican great-grandfather and the challenge they face in deciding whether or not to keep it.

The script was inspired by the life and art of Mexican artist Martín Ramírez. García-Romero came across an exhibition of his work in New York several years ago. From there, she began research that took her as far as the painter’s hometown of Jalisco, Mexico. The thorough research for the script carries over to director Kevin Dreyer’s specific vision for the show, which works with the script to create a very realistic feel.

García-Romero is a visiting professor in the FTT department as well as a Moreau Fellow. The Moreau Fellowship is designed to bring scholars to campus from groups that are underrepresented to encourage dialogue about diversity.

“Provenance” accomplishes that goal through its focus on a Mexican-American family.

“It really explores questions of roots and background, and shows the wide range of connections people can have to their heritage,” sophomore Gabriela Nunez, who plays Grace Martinez, said.

Race and culture are topics that often do not receive much exposure at Notre Dame. Carina Finn, who plays Cindy Jacobs, said she has enjoyed being involved in the play. “‘Provenance’ is an especially intimate piece and deals with race and culture in ways I haven’t seen done before in my time here,” she said.

Each cast and crew member brings personal experiences to this performance, enriching the show’s first workshop with their own touches. “Provenance” has brought together faculty, undergraduates, international students and graduate members of the Notre Dame community — a mix that you would be hard-pressed to find in another show on campus.

The production process for this show has also been unique, with script changes occurring until the beginning of this month.

“There has definitely been a lot more research involved in this show than any other one I’ve done before,” Nunez said.

The actors have clearly enjoyed engaging with a new work and developing it with the guidance of its writer.

“I love [García-Romero’s] ability to temper genuine human experience with just the right amount of magical realism,” Finn said. “It makes the world of the play a completely engaging and fantastic space.”

Charlie O’Leary, the production’s dramaturg, said his favorite part of the process has been the novelty of the play.

“I think it’s really exciting that we are the first group of people to see this brand new piece of theatre,” he said. “The process of working on a new play is especially interesting because the script is a semi-malleable document that everyone involved has a hand in shaping.”

Nunez said all of the hard work has been rewarding.

“Knowing that I am the first person to play this character is also really exciting and has really made me think about who I want this character to be,” she said. “[Working with García-Romero] makes me feel confident that the play is being produced the way that the playwright intended, which is something I’ve never had the chance to know.

Sophomore Natalie Cuevas, who plays Ramon Martinez said the characters are very relatable.

“There are so many different things that the characters go through that I think everyone can relate to in some way,” she said. ” It’s very personal and because of that, one of the most touching and intimate shows I’ve ever done.”

In addition to this week’s performances of “Provenance,” the Department is presenting a free conference Thursday. The “Latina Theater Today: New Voices Conference” will feature two panels of leading scholars, performers and writers discussing

contemporary development of Latina theater and 21st century Latina playwrights. Students who attend the conference will receive a complementary ticket to Thursday night’s performance.

“Provenance,” written by Anne García-Romero and directed by Kevin Dreyer, runs Nov. 16-20 in the Philbin Studio Theatre at the DeBartalo Performing Arts Center. Student tickets are $5 and general admission is $10. Tickets can be purchased at performingarts.nd.edu or at the DPAC box office. The “Latina Theater Today: New Voices Conference” will be held on Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in McKenna Hall, Room 210. More information can be found at ftt.nd.edu

Contact Brenna Williams at