Luis Alfaro’s masterpiece, ‘Electricidad’, was presented by the UIC Theatre and directed by the well-known Marcela Muñoz. Muñoz is known for many of her works in Chicago’s oldest Spanish-language theatre company, the Aguijón Theater, where she was the Co-Artistic and Managing Director. (3Arts.org) The play tells the story of Electricidad, the eldest daughter of Agamenón ‘El Auggie’, who was born and raised in the streets of East Los Angeles barrios to be a true Chola, a female Latina gangbanger.
Ever since the death of her father, Electricidad seeks nothing but vengeance toward her mother, Clemencia, for the murder of her father. Electricidad’s younger sister, Ifigenia, and her grandmother, Abuela, both begged her to let go and learn to forgive her mother, but she wasn’t ready to rest, not until she’s able to avenge her father’s death. Meanwhile, Orestes, the youngest child and the only son of El Auggie, was exiled to Las Vegas to train along with his godfather, Nino, to earn his rightful place as the heir to the throne.
Orestes wasn’t aware of his father’s death until he arrived home, where Electricidad then took advantage of Orestes’s confusion and successfully induced him into killing their mother, saying that it’d prove his worthiness to be the future king. The play then ends with Orestes walking out of the house covered in the blood of his mother, Electricidad, after finally being able to avenge her father’s death, cradled her little brother in her arm as he laughs in insanity.
The language used in ‘Electricidad’ was a mixture of both English and Spanish.
The choice of language was most suitable for the play, as the setting of the play took place in one of the largest Mexican-American streets in the United States. Informal and profanity languages were used constantly throughout the play, by having characters, both young and old, cussing at each other was able to create slight laughter amongst the audience. The use of informal and profane language can also help to bring a more realistic view of how people in the real world would talk to each other, especially people in the barrios. The Spanish slang used in the play’s dialogue such as ‘malaria’ or ‘cabrona’ can be confusing for many people, but by using both English and Spanish in the same sentence, the writer is allowing us as audiences to come up with a definition from context and understand those slangs in our way. ‘Electricidad’ is an example of theatre tragedy that reflected the world we live in today by looking into the violent side of Los Angeles streets. Characters such as Electricidad, who honors the loyalty and violence of the hood, are a demonstration of the cholo’s loyalty towards their families and gang members. Yet, characters like Orestes, who possess a naive mind that wanted to run away from his normal life, is a demonstration that not all cholos wanted the life that was given to them and tends to have the desire to be more than just a gang member, but the scars of their journey such as tattoo along with the stigmas that come along with it, aren’t allowing them to become a part of society. Although this may not sound like a lot, Alfaro is still trying to reflect on the sad reality of the world from his view while using both humor and tragedy. Compliments to Luis Alfaro, for the creative use of the three major characters, which were the three children of El Auggie to represent the three main themes of the play, Vengeance, Fate, and Forgiveness.
In the play, Electricidad was filled with rage and hatred, she wanted nothing more than to have the opportunity to take her mother’s life to avenge the death of her father, thus representing Vengeance. On the other hand, Ifigenia is a person of belief, even though she was a former Chola herself, she believed in forgiveness and has forgiven her mother for what she did. Ifigenia even tried to encourage her older sister to seek forgiveness and move on with her life, thus representing Forgiveness. Lastly, Others, the youngest child was believed to ‘return from the dead. Electricidad believed that her little brother’s return is a sign of what she should do, which was to avenge her father instead of walking away, thus representing Fate. These three representations aren’t just themes for a play, they’re also representations of the choices we make in the real world. In life, we can either choose to hold on to our grudges and never move on from the past in hope that we’d be at peace once we’ve gotten our revenge, or we can choose to forgive others and ourselves in any way we can and move on. A major spectacle element that has helped elevate the play was the costumes that were used. Compliments to the members of the wardrobe crew, Gregory Graham, Vibyana Sacluti, and Martina Scofano for their attention to detail in the costumes.
Each character possessed a unique feature in their costumes that help to define their identity and helped us as audiences to have a brief knowledge of who they are, even before they start to speak. For example, Abuela’s costume was a low-necked top with a colorful short skirt that’s as revealing as a skirt can be, an outfit that a woman in her 20s would usually wear, not a woman in her 50s. Just by the look of her costume, we can already see that Abuela is someone that is only old but remain the spirit of a very young woman. The casts of ‘Electricidad’ have all done a spectacular job of portraying their characters, but the actor that stood out the most was Sonya Madrigal, who played Electricidad. Madrigal’s facial expression and body language throughout the play were outstanding, she managed to stay in character even in scenes that didn’t require her to be. In scenes where Electricidad was speaking to the body of her father, Madrigal constantly looked up to the audience with a terrifying facial expression along with gestures such as grabbing onto the fence as if she was a psychopath, her actions have successfully portrayed the insanity that Electricidad was lead to become after the death of her father. In conclusion, ‘Electricidad’ is a unique play that successfully portrayed the real world with both humor and tragedy. By watching ‘Electricidad’, audiences will get the chance to experience the dangerous life of the East Los Angeles barrios, therefore I think it’s a perfect play for people that are looking forward to experiencing a different culture from their own.