This weekend, the Pomona College Department of Theatre and Dance will present “The House of the Spirits,” a play based on the novel by Isabel Allende on political turmoil — a subject that is not just the stuff of fiction.
The story, a work of magical realism, is set in an unspecified town in South America and tells the story of three generations of the Trueba family, beginning in the early 1900s and ending a year after the 1973 coup de’ etat that transformed a democracy into a military dictatorship. Themes of war, peace and economic disparity are explored through the telling of a tale of post-World War II political divisiveness, using fictional characters placed in factual events.
Director and Assistant Professor of Theatre Giovanni Ortega says the play became increasingly relevant given the outcomes of the U.S. election, as the work talks about political upheavals, equity and the maltreatment of women in society.
Ariana Diaz ’19, who plays the role of Clara, agrees that the play has deep resonance today.
“With the context of what's going on in our country today, the cast has been driven to really punch our lines,” says Diaz.
Art triggers to transform, says Ortega.
“Magical realism conceals and expands atrocities at the same time because it’s really in front of your face, “ says Ortega. “What artists do is we feel for the audience so they can see the realities of society. “
“The House of the Spirits” cast members span ethnic and political spectrums and are a close-knit group, says Ortega, and as election results came in during rehearsal, the play became more of a visceral experience for all of them.
“Creating magic in a tumultuous time is so important,” says Ortega, speaking of Allende’s book, the play and current affairs.
“I think the power of theatre is the way that it allows healing to occur and the solidarity with everybody that you can create through the work,” he says.
Performances of “The House of the Spirits” will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 19 and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 and Sunday, Nov. 20 at Seaver Theatre (300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont). Tickets are $11 general admission and $6 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.