By Daniel Mendoza
When you think of your parents lives, you probably think about the memories you have made with them. Whether they are good or bad memories, they are about you and your parents. Rarely do we ever imagine our parents lives before us or think about the different people they were. However, for writer and performer Marissa Chibás, that’s not really a mystery anymore.
Marissa Chibás premiered her autobiographical solo piece, Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary, to the Midwest in Chicago as part of the 3rd Chicago International Latino Theatre Festival, #Destinos, with a limited engagement at the Goodman Theatre.
There is an air of mystery as you walk in to the performance. Old radios, a knocked over stool, and dozens of books are scattered about the intimate black box theatre. Just then, you notice the projection screen and you wonder, “What exactly am I going to witness here tonight?”
As the piece begins, the audience is transported to a cave as they begin sinking deeper and deeper in the water. Chibás slowly enters the space and the journey begins. She brings us back to her honeymoon in the Venezuelan Amazonia with a guide named Stanley. Suddenly the audience realizes that Chibás is drowning and we are taken to the past.
Throughout the piece Marissa Chibás takes on the identity of different family members. The first person to “possess” Chibás is her father, Raul Chibás, who co-wrote the Cuban Revolution manifesto with Fidel Castro. The audience sees him fall in love with bohemian New York but also sees his close brush with death at the hands of men working for the government.
Then, Chibás channels her uncle Eddie Chibás who was a political radio host and founder of the Orthodox party in Cuba. The audience learns about what Eddie stood for, how he spread his beliefs and almost even won the presidency. Unfortunately, he becomes discredited as a political source after a claim he made, because of an inside source, lead to a dead end with no evidence. This ultimately leads to a powerful final message from Eddie Chibás.
Finally, the last member of the family we meet is Dalia Chibás, Marissa’s mother, and the Miss Cuba 1959 runner-up. We hear about her first time in New York, being courted by Raul. The audience also witnesses his very strange marriage proposal.
Marissa then returns and talks about growing up in New York with her family. She recalls one specific party where her mother and aunts taught her how to dance and it’s a moment of pure joy to witness. She talks about how she remembered her mother’s fighting spirit and her beauty and how her father was truly a man between worlds. Suddenly we are back under water and see how tempting it is for someone to give in and stay there. Chibás refuses to give in and comes up for air, making peace with the fact that she is the daughter of a Cuban revolutionary.
The performance is incredible. It really feels like Chibás becomes her family, and the transitions are masterfully done with a quick change of just a shirt or even just a little lipstick.
This compelling performance runs through this weekend, October 13th. If you’re unable to make it to this particular performance, you can catch the rest of the plays and performances of the Destinos Festival which runs through October 27th.
For the most up to date schedule be sure to visit: http://www.clata.org/destinos