How timely was it for me to check out the English language world premiere of the light musical In the Time of the Butterflies, an adaptation of the work of Dominican-American novelist Julia Alvarez, who happens to share the same last name as San Diego first Latino mayoral candidate, David Alvarez.
What else do these two have in common? The need to represent diversity, championing civil rights and a desire to rewrite history.
In one "Butterflies" scene, a character pleads with Alvarez to "write the whole story." And she did.
Before Alvarez wrote the novel, the world didn't know about the revolutionary Mirabal sisters or how despotic Presidente Rafael Trujillo was during his 30-year reign of terror. According to the Dominican Republic state-controlled newspapers, the deaths of the three Mirabal sisters, also known as Las Mariposas (the Butterflies), were caused by an automobile accident. It didn't mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor did it reveal that the sisters were plotting against Trujillo. In fact, the women's deaths were covered up.
Thanks to Alvarez, the true story has been uveiled. Using an oral account of the surviving Mirabal sister, Dede, Alvarez was able to concoct a courageous tale of metamorphosis. The theatrical adaptation, which was written by Caridad Svich, sprinkles original songs by acclaimed composer Michael Roth throughout the one-act play.
The most moving of these, "Muevate Mijita," was chanted during the imprisonment of the sisters Minerva and Mate. The song has strong parallels to U.S. slave songs. "Muevate Mijita" gives theatregoers a sense of suffering and an awarenes of the comfort that music can provide to the oppressed.
In the Time of the Butterflies is a rich, evocative and unforgettable theatrical event starring an all-Latina cast and is directed by famed Culture Clash founding member Herbert Siguenza. who also plays all of the male parts, contributing an especially convincingly, ice-cold portrayal of "Generalissimo El Jefe" Trujillo. The day of Las Mariposas' death, Nov. 25, is observed by many Latino nations as the International Day Against Violence Toward Women, and also marked the beginning of the end to Trujillo's rule.
Dita Quiñones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino and hip-hop communities get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or Facebook.