In 2009, in the town of Praxedis G. Guerrero, Chihuahua, México, the police chief was tortured and beheaded, a victim of the drug cartels. A year later, with all but three of the town’s police officers having quit, Marisol Valles García, a 20-year-old woman working on a criminology degree, was the only person willing to step up and take on the job of police chief.
García’s bravery was an international news story, and became a central element of Matthew Paul Olmos‘s play So Go the Ghosts of Mexico, part one, presented at La Mama last year. This season, the play returns, but in a Spanish language translation by Bernardo Cubria at Repertorio Español, now entitled Así van los fantasmas de México, primera parte and directed by Estefanía Fadul.
And while García’s story provided the inspiration for the play, the production is much more than a biopic — vengeful ghosts, an invisible child, and a magic car stereo help to create a powerful piece that is less an historical telling, and more a theatrical meditation on action and consequence in the midst of the drug wars on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Listen in to this episode of the podcast as Estefanía and Matthew discuss the effects of translating the play into the language of the other side of the border, who the audience is, magical realism, and how you integrate sound as the sixth character in your five-actor play.
“…it’s really fascinating to see it translated…there’s a certain fluidity to it in Spanish…there might be something interesting about having the original writing from a perspective of an American, now being told from, it feels like, more the Mexican side — maybe there’s some sort of balance that gets found in that…”