By Fabiola Aceves, May 9, 2023
From Northern Mexico to CPP’s stage, “El Nogalar” was showcased at the university theatre from April 21 to April 30.
“El Nogalar ” or “The Pecan Orchard” tells the story of Maite, the matriarch of the Galvan family, and her two daughters Valeria and Anita and the fight for her land amid the drug war in Northern Mexico. The playwright Tanya Saracho explained the Mexico that Maite and her daughters have come back to is not the romanticized idea of the one she left.
The production of “El Nogalar” is told in both English and Spanish, switching between both languages. The switch in language was shown by using music or lights to indicate when either language was about to be spoken.
The story starts off in the pecan orchard called “the Nogales,” where we see a housekeeper, Dunia, and how she maintains the house for the Galvan women. Lopez, who is a long-time family friend, along with Dunia, is one of the main people that who help look after the Nogales for the Galvan women.
After years of not living on her land, Maite comes back to a Mexico that is not the one she had left. Her oldest daughter Valeria stayed behind to take care of the land along with Dunia and Lopez, while Maite was in the United States with the youngest daughter Anita. Upon returning, Valeria must explain to her mother that the cartels are starting to mess with their land and want to take it for themselves.
As the drug war continues, Lopez, who has known the Galvan family since he was a kid and has been in love with Maite ever since, tries to convince Maite, the owner of the Nogales, to borrow money from him to pay off the cartel and keep her family safe. He suggests this idea due to the family running out of money to keep the land afloat.
Maite is portrayed to be a stubborn and proud woman about her Nogales, which is why she rejects the idea in the first place. The orchard has a special significance for the family. The land on which the pecan orchard resides in has been passed down from generations of Galvan women. While the men have died, the women are the ones who have survived and looked after the land.
The play heavily showcases the idea of a strong matriarch and lead in a Hispanic household, something not commonly represented in the arts.
As the play’s stage manager, Andrea Lopez expressed the importance of what it meant to have the idea of a female lead represented.
“I feel like this was extremely monumental, we’re so used to seeing men or male figures or masculine energies be the leading energy,” said Lopez,
Contrary to Maite’s representation of being a powerful, strong, independent woman, we see the character of Dunia, someone who is always watching behind closed doors and never had any sort of control over her environment. While Maite had the opportunity to leave the land, Dunia has always been bound to one place.
Dunia is played by theatre and liberal studies student Daisy Posadas. Dunia embodies the idea of what it is to be the “help” who is often overlooked by the patrons and never appreciated. Her character along with Lopez’s showcase the idea of wanting to get ahead in life and playing the game life has dealt.
“Overall, she still has her struggles and this desire to make it out, make it past her circumstances,” said Posadas about her character Dunia and how she found herself relating to her.
Lopez is played by theatre student Christopher Lopez. Lopez highlights the idea of a male character who cares deeply about everyone and everything around them.
“He was always trying to take care of others, that’s his main goal,” said Christopher Lopez about what drew him to Lopez.
As the play continues, the struggles Dunia and Lopez go through are shown because they are overlooked by the Galvan women and never appreciated for the work they do for the Nogales. While this is going on, Maite tries to take matters into her own hands by meeting with one of the men who works for the head of the cartel. She does this in an attempt to save her precious land that has survived for many generations.
These actions once again showcased the importance of a strong female lead in the household, which is an important aspect that should be represented today.
“In Latino culture, the roles with men and women are very different, the men are supposed to be leaders,” said Posadas. “So, it was cool to be in this play where we get these really strong female leads who have status.”
The final actions, although questionable, came from the kindness of his heart and his love for Maite and the Galvan women.
“He loves this land, he loves Maite, he is doing it for the good, at least in his heart and his mind,” said Christopher Lopez about how he wanted to portray Lopez.
“We don’t belong to there, we don’t belong to here, where do we fit?” was a quote from the script that strongly signified the uncertainty in finding Mexican American identity. Not being able to find a sense of home in either the United States or in Mexico is a feeling that is still common today. The use of both English and Spanish in the play help build a connection between those two cultures. “El Nogalar” was a great representation of Mexican American culture and how it should be more appreciated.
Feature image courtesy of Fabiola Acevas
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