Caelin Miltko | Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Time, we assume, passes the same way for all us. A year for one person is the same as a year for another; certainly, some days may seem to go by more quickly than others, but that is a matter of perception and not a reflection of actual reality.
Or so we assume. In José Rivera’s “Cloud Tectonics,” the playwright questions our basic assumptions about time and space with a dreamlike, tragic love story. As part of their spring line up, the Department of Film, Television and Theater will present “Cloud Tectonics” at the Regis Philbin Theater in DPAC beginning Feb. 19. The play is directed by senior Professor of Directing and Playwriting/Theater and Social Concerns Anton Juan.
“Cloud Tectonics” is an exploration of magical realism. It begins with a pregnant woman standing in the rain in Los Angeles. She is eventually picked up by a passer-by and goes with him to his house. Once there, his clocks literally stop, and the play begins to mess with our assumed truths about time and space.
The play only features three characters. Celestina de la Sol is the name of the woman, and she claims to be 54 years old and to have been pregnant for two years. Anibal de la Luna is the man who picks her up, and Nelson is his brother. The three move about in the same physical setting but different time frames, complicating their relationships as they navigate the events of the past and how much time has passed for each of them.
The play posed particular problems in terms of set design, which were presented to various FTT classes to solve in time for the play’s production. The “torrential rainstorm” that begins the play and the floating bed in Anibal’s house were particularly challenging for the set designers.
Like many FTT plays, “Cloud Tectonics” asks the audience to leave the theater questioning their own perceptions and assumptions about life. Like “Six Characters in Search of an Author” from the fall, there is no reason to believe that the end of the play will bring any further clarity to what has happened.
Riviera was nominated for a 2005 Academy Award, a BAFTA Award and a Writers Guild of America Award for his screenplay “The Motorcycle Diaries” and received two OBIE Awards for Playwriting. “Cloud Tectonics” premiered in 1995 at the 19th Annual Humana Festival and was then produced at the La Jolla Playhouse and at Playwrights Horizons in New York City.
The FTT Department has described the play as one that “explores human relationships, the impermanence of time, the possibility of miracles and asks, ‘What if there are people born who don’t have that inner clock — who don’t progress through space and time the same way you do?’” The very question reveals that this is a play with no easy conclusions, though it will certainly instigate some interesting academic pondering.
The first performance of the FTT version of “Cloud Tectonics” is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The play will run through March 1, with performances at 7:30 p.m. from Friday to Saturday and Feb. 24-28. There will be Sunday matinee performances at 2:30 p.m., Feb. 22 and March 1. Tickets are $7 for students, $12 for seniors and $15 for regular admission.