Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Play a Day: Blowout!

Guadalís Del Carmen
For Wednesday I read Blowout! by Guadalís Del Carmen, and available at New Play Exchange.

To make time each day to read one full length play, I rise before dawn so that I can have the play read and make notes before I am needed to rouse the children, make tea for the wife, and get everyone fed and out the door before rushing to take care of my own business and get to the office.

So, I need to have the play chosen the night before, to save time. This morning I opened the script and discovered it is in Spanish. I know a little Spanish. Un poquito. What to do?

I used Google translate. I hope that was okay. It was either that or not read the script. The translator is not completely efficient, but it would be a mistake to dismiss its effectiveness out of hand. I know enough Spanish to appreciate how many colorful turns of phrase and elegant and humorous metaphors were successfully translated in English for me, and what did not come through with complete clarity were easy enough to make sense of.

What a time we live in. This moment of great transition, with forces struggling desperately and violently to stem the tide of forward progress. And yet, technology is making it possible to reach through barriers of language, and listening to stories you otherwise could not have heard nor understood.

Transition is the subject of Blowout! and the place is a Chicago hair salon, the playfully named "Jair N Maykop." The neighborhood is gentrifying, and businesses like this which have served the newcomer populations of West Town are being squeezed out by higher rent and property taxes, and the trendy tastes of (to take one example) white hipsters with dreadlocks.

Change is coming, as it always will, symbolized in one fashion by the title of the play -- the "blowout," a simple process (as I understand it) of blowing and brushing until the textured hair of a person of color more resembles the straight hair of a European descendant. The eldest of the stylists comments on how everyone wants their hair to look like someone else's. "Lo general nadie está feliz como es," she says. No one is happy with the way things are.

But I was delighted with this script, which features a variety of charming women characters, great humor, interesting and welcome monologues, and hope for the future.

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