Women of Juarez play fills up Studio Theatre for opening day

Benjamin Garcia and Jenny Gonzalez

On Friday, October 8 in the Studio Theater, Women of Juarez by Ruben Amavizca-Murua opened to a full house, comprised largely of theater arts students.

The play reflects on the femicides taking place in Juarez, Mexico.

Since 1993 over 800 young women have either gone missing or been found raped and murdered in the city.

In Juárez pink crosses are spread across the city. They reference all the women who have been brutally taken from their families.

The play was directed by Minerva Garcia, an interim theater arts professor, who has previously taught at Frida Kahlo Theater in Los Angeles.

Over ten years ago, Ruben Amavizca[-Murua], the author of the show gave Garcia an opportunity to start directing.

“I had a lot of wonderful actresses come up and we don’t have enough parts in the show so I wanted to be democratic and have everybody participate so I created that for them,” Garcia said.

She said her directing style changed to fit the space and then the story; she also commented on how she had to work with the writing style of the author in order to protect the realism of the storytelling.

She continued, “Money [was an object]. I mean, I had more grandeur illusions but I still got a lot of support from the designers and Cerritos [College].”

Chloe Avila, theater major said, “My family is from Juarez, my grandmother actually is from there, also some of the situations that occurred there kind of hit home to me.

“I felt I should learn where my family is from and what happened over there. I felt a little overwhelmed, and … [everyday] I’d come home cranky and depressed.

She continued, “I started crying like the last couple of shows- It gets real, real fast.”

Avila stated that one of the obstacles was the language.

Cristina Valle was the main character playing the role of Rosario Lopez, mother of Maritza Lopez. She spoke about how she was grateful for the play existing and for being included in the production.

“I couldn’t believe that the story existed and I heard that they were going to do [a professional] production but the cast was already [selected]. A friend told me that Minerva was doing this [here at Cerritos College].”

So she did her best at the audition and got the role.

Valle joined the Frida Kahlo Theater in April where the author of the play is the Artistic Director.

The language was also an obstacle for Valle.

She said, “I’m fluent in English even though I’m not speaking perfectly. I think with the encouragement of the director and the whole team, [it] is something that you have to overcome.

“The story is important for me because this is not only happening in Juarez. This happens in the whole world including my country [Ecuador], El Salvador, Argentina.

“I’ve been watching a lot of news- but I see that El Salvador also is the capital of women getting hit.”

Valle continued, “I’m happy for the opportunity because Minerva was nice enough to [have me in the play] and the whole cast was just amazing.”

Minerva concluded, “Not nice enough, you earned it.”

Amoung the audience was Kasey Felix-Peoples, natural science major whom atended the play as a requirement for her Theatre 101 class.

“[The professor] told us like the settings kind of, like where it was back in Mexico and how hardworking families […] work hard but they are still very poor and they try to move for a better life but they didn’t or at least it didn’t turn out to be as good as they thought it would,” she said.

Her last comment was about how it is unfair as a woman, being especially at risk of being raped, “It’s just very unlucky for us women, we are not even trying to dress provocatively.

Minerva Garcia wanted to make sure the organizations that offer resources in Juarez received proper attention. These resources include organizations such as Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa and Casa Amiga. Casa Amiga is the only domestic violence shelter in all of Juarez.

“[It is] the only one and they get threatened all the time and these women keep fighting for it so people can reach out.”

The Women of Juarez play has a few more performances on Oct. 13, 14, and 15 at 8 p.m.

There will also be a 2 p.m. performance on Oct. 16.

In attendance for the Oct. 14 performance will be a mother of one of the female victims of Juarez.

The performance will be in Spanish.