posted by Dion Mucciacito, cast member of Boleros for the Disenchanted
A curtain is falling with the cascading shimmer of guitar strings.
A young couple embrace,
bathed in light and possibility.
Their older selves on the opposite side of the stage
hold on to this memory of hope.
A flicker of light that glimmers from the past
like the stars in the sky.
Stars that might already be gone, but we wouldn't even know it.
Their light still lingers.
The curtain has fallen.
We have just finished our last preview for José Rivera's Boleros for the Disenchanted and the curtain for our opening will soon rise. The cast and crew have put a lot of work into this piece, and we are still finding new and exciting revelations as the process of deepening continues.
As much as this play is about dreams and memories, it is also deeply about hope. How hope can somehow exist in a place where the light of dreams past have been extinguished by life’s brutal circumstances.
Upon starting work on this play that I deeply love, by a playwright that I have admired since a teenager, I have been waking up and writing about my dreams.
So much of life we defer dreams as fleeting figments of our imagination.
But what happens to a dream deferred? I love my dreams. They are the gold that I mine for in my process. They can be prophetic, haunting, and cathartic.
For myself, having the opportunity to work on this play is a dream fulfilled. Or I should say “in process,” because we have until the end of the month to keep dreaming lucidly. All of us in the cast seem to have devoted our process to shining a light to reveal the meaning in the dream that is in front of us in the form of text. I am in awe at how quickly we have become an ensemble. Moreover, a family, focused on telling this story that is so dear to all of us for one reason or another. I became aware of the play a year ago, when I had an audition for the production done at the Huntington Theatre in Boston. Upon first reading it, I loved the play. It resonated with me on a very personal level. José’s work has always done that for me. There is a dignity and strength to his characters even when encountering circumstances that break one’s heart and test the very metal of their spirit.
For my family, this dignity in the face of struggle has been a constant. When I was very young, I watched my mother lose a six-year battle with cancer and die in a slow, humiliating way that rent my heart to witness. My Mother, the light of my life, 34 years old, broken. Yet somehow hopeful. She would speak to me of her dreams, and desires. Even though I was eight, I knew these dreams would probably never be fulfilled; I understood her condition. Yet it was good to hear my terminally ill mother dreaming of the future.
Was she delusional? Maybe. I view it as courage. A defiance in the face of the slow despair that was bludgeoning her will.
She kept fighting. For what? For love? I still wonder. I ask myself if I have this fight in me. While in the midst of working on this play, in the midst of scenes that echo her plight, the question lingers. “Do I have the courage to keep fighting in the midst of grim circumstances?” And by fight, I mean to live without fear, and love like each moment could be my last. That is the challenge: to live moment to moment. And it is the challenge to the actors in this play to give our life, love, and truth to the words given to us.
It is a testament to the strength of the play that all of us—actors and our beloved director, Carey—are taking the task of bringing it to life so personally. All of us see ourselves and loved ones in this beautiful storm of words that José Rivera has written. And we have been dancing in that rain for the past month. Some days singing, and some drowning. But most, admiring how, when the light passes through the rain, a whole spectrum of a world is revealed. It has been our task, and our joy, to find this “light” in our selves that will illuminate this world of the play for the audience.
Yet my question still remains: “Do I have the courage to keep fighting...?”
The older characters of Flora and Eusebio in Boleros for the Disenchanted are constantly asking that question of themselves. Why keep going if the colors of the world have been dimmed to grey even though the sun is bright? Where can one find hope? Perhaps for Flora and Eusebio it is in the choice to love, and the remembrance of the innocence and truth of that basic choice. As she tends to her sick husband, Flora is asked, “You don't want to run away?” in regards to her marriage with Eusebio. And she replies, “Every day. I cry, I get mad, I blame him, I blame myself. I beg God for a different life… but, in the end, I don't walk away.”
Somehow, I find, the experience of art, of watching a play or listening to a piece of music, or seeing someone live without fear can cleanse the soul of all the clutter that keeps one from seeing clearly. And a moment of communion is reached. A catharsis. A moment of clarity. The defenses are down and the inner workings are somehow changeable. The glimmer of distant constellations of dreams are re-awakened. They ask, “Do you have the courage to keep fighting… ?”
The curtain is about to rise at A.C.T. for Boleros…
I can only pray that the curtains of my eyes stay open as I dream…