Pomona College’s Seaver Theater hosted a four-day run of “The House of the Spirits” by the Pomona College Department of Theater and Dance this Nov. 17-20.
According to the play's Facebook page, the play, based on a novel by Isabel Allende, follows “the rise and fall of the Trueba family in an un-named [sic] Latin American country, reminiscent of Chile.”
The story is told from the perspective of Alba, the youngest of the three generations of Trueba women, whose memories “light up the stage […] as she ultimately finds the strength to tell her own story.”
The director of the play and assistant professor of theater and dance at Pomona, Giovanni Ortega, said that his experience working with Chilean refugees and his close friendship with the playwright, Caridad Svich, inspired him to bring the play to life.
“I felt that it was very important to tell the story of marginalized communities and how they deal with dictatorship,” Ortega said. “One of the main themes is trauma and recovery. There are so many atrocities that happen [to the members of the family] through the context of the play … But at the same time, it also addresses the political climate of the country, and how the two interlink.”
“The House of the Spirits” takes place from the 1920s through the 1970s in Latin America, a time during which sociopolitical changes ultimately culminated in a devastating dictatorship and the rise of authoritarianism. The play also addresses the prevalence of sexual assault, violence against marginalized communities, and class struggles.
“I think the most important thing about theater is when the show ends, the conversations begin, the call to action begins,” Ortega said. “What do we have to do to ensure that women and gay men are not being physically abused, what do we have to do to make sure that trans rights are being in the forefront? That’s the exciting part for me.”
“The House of the Spirits” production partnered with many advocacy groups on campus, including the Pomona College Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, Chicano-Latino Student Affairs, and Questbridge, in hope of bringing light to the plights of marginalized communities and victims of sexual assault.