Sara Acevedo’21 is considering bringing a hammock to the Allen Theatre so she can get some rest between stints as an actor and a member of both the lighting and costume design crews for “Water by the Spoonful,” which opens on Thursday, October 11.
“When I came to Pomona, I knew I wanted to focus on training as an actor, so I tried to shoot for work-study jobs in the Theatre Department. And it has worked out great,” says Acevedo, whose first role was playing Malcolm in a high school production of “Macbeth.”
A transfer student from Puerto Rico, Acevedo plays Yasmin, an adjunct professor of music and member of a displaced and shattered family, which includes her Iraqi war vet cousin, struggling from post-traumatic stress, and her aunt, a recovering crack addict who counsels other addicts from a chat room.
“I was interested in the play because it was by Puerto Rican author Quiara Alegría Hudes and about a family from Puerto Rico, but I think what drew me most to it were the family dynamics and the theme of living in the diaspora,” says Acevedo.
Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Water by the Spoonful” is directed by Diana Wyenn, a Los Angeles-based director, choreographer and dramaturg. The play marks the first time Wyenn has worked with a cast of students.
“It's been an amazing opportunity to take the style of directing that I’ve developed over years and see if it works with college students,” says Wyenn. “Working with them at the beginning of their journey as craftsmen in this field is a really exciting place to be.”
Wyenn, who describes her shows as very visual and physical, says she spends about a week pulling the script apart and “Sherlock-Holmesing” it with the actors. It’s a process that continues through the run of the play.
“The text becomes the basis for all the decisions,” she says. “You set up these tent poles that we all have to hit so the audience gets the full impact of what’s possible with the show. But within that, there are still discoveries to be made.”
Performed in the round, “Water by the Spoonful” takes place in Philadelphia, San Diego, Puerto Rico and Japan, as well as in online chat rooms. To define the space between “real” and “cyber” Wyenn turned the floor into a canvas with projections defining the different locations.
Acevedo relied on movement and language to distinguish whether she is talking to someone face to face or online.
“When I step into the digital world, there is a lot more precision in my movements,” Acevedo says. “Diana also told us to introduce ourselves when we enter a chat room because that’s what you do with other characters in the digital world.”
For Wyenn, the 2009 play is a both a period piece and a reflection of the complexity of our multicultural society.
“It’s almost like ‘Water by the Spoonful’ captured a moment in time that continues,” Wyenn says, “And hopefully, we're starting to see the patterns and break them. Plays can show us a world we want to run toward or run from. I think theatre is part of the conversation we need to have as a society.”
“Water by the Spoonful” is dedicated to the late Pomona College Professor of Theatre Art Horowitz.
Performances of “Water by the Spoonful” will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 11 through Saturday, October 13, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 14 and Saturday, October 23, at the Allen Theatre (300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont). Tickets are $11 general admission and $6 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.