The theatrical production of “An Enemy of the Pueblo” currently playing at Casa 0101 has been adapted by Josefina López* from Ibsen’s play, “An Enemy of the People.” It takes place present day in the Mexican border town of Milagros. The part of Dr. Stockmann is now a woman (Magda Del Rio,) who is a midwife and intuitive Curandera. (shaman woman)
Enemy of the Pueblo – Review
Milagros was once a popular tourist destination for Americans because of its healing mineral springs. It was taken over by a drug cartel called “Los Sapos,” who scared away the tourist trade and ruined the town’s economy. Many of the residents were forced to leave their families and seek work in the states.
Magda lives with her daughter Petra and granddaughter Laura. When Petra’s husband is away working across the border, she gets raped by El Sapo, the leader of the cartel, and becomes pregnant. Magda’s husband goes after him to defend his daughter’s honor and causes El Sapo to drown. He, in turn, is murdered by the cartel. Petra asks Magda to help her end the pregnancy and she performs an abortion.
Both Magda and Laura have the gift to see the dead and carry on conversations with the ghosts of Magda’s husband Eugenio and the evil El Sapo. The cartel is gone and everyone in town is looking forward to reopening the mineral springs to bring back the tourists.
One night, Magda has a nightmare that the water in the springs has been poisoned. Alarmed, she attempts to call a town hall meeting and put an article in the newspaper to alert the townspeople of the danger. She is thwarted by her brother Pedro, who is mayor of Milagros and part owner of the land along with Magda. He trivializes her claim and turns the town against her because he doesn’t want to close down the springs and lose the income it would generate for the town. Magda learns from her Gringo friend O’Conner that Pedro has allowed fracking outside of the town and it has poisoned the water.
The townspeople are further enraged when the priest, who took Petra’s confession, gets drunk and lets on that Petra ended her pregnancy with the help of her mother.
“Enemy of the Pueblo” powerfully reveals Magda’s struggle to tell the truth amid political resistance that touches on feminism, immigration, and concern for the environment.
Zilah Mendoza thoroughly embraces the complicated role of Magda and her range of emotions with passion and fluidity of movement. A nice touch is the role of the “man in black musician” who strums the play’s soundtrack on stage in character throughout the performance. The entire cast works well as an ensemble and several of the actors perform dual or multiple roles.
It’s an impressive work directed by Corky Dominguez, and one of my favorite productions so far at Casa 0101. Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” was first published in 1882 but it’s interesting how the base premise of the original and this modern-day adaptation in rural Mexico is still eerily relevant in our world and politics today.
Boyle Heights Museum Exhibition – CASA 0101
An art exhibition from the new Boyle Heights Museum hangs in the lobby of the charming CASA 0101 theatre called “We Are Here, and We Won’t Leave: Fighting Mexican Removal Since the 1930’s.”
It depicts the history of Boyle Heights which is often portrayed in the media as a ghetto. It’s actually a working-class and family-centered community that is diverse and rich in art, music, and social activism. The immigrant community in Boyle Heights has fought hard for their rights despite hostility and government mandates designed to tear the fabric of the neighborhood apart.
“Enemy of the Pueblo” plays through November 12, 2017, at CASA 0101 Theatre Main Stage
2102 East 1st Street, Boyle Heights, CA 90033
Click here for performance dates, times, and tickets or call 323.263.7684
Continue the Conversation after the show at Josefina López’s new restaurant Casa Fina Restaurant and Cantina.
Josefina López – playwright and producer
*Josefina López, writer and producer of “Enemy of the Pueblo” is the founder and Artistic Director of CASA 0101 with over 80 plays under her belt. She is also an award-winning producer, screenwriter, author, restauranteur, and activist. Josefina is best known for authoring the play and co-authoring the film of “Real Women Have Curves,” starring America Ferrera. She was born in Mexico and immigrated to America when she was 5-years old settling in Boyle Heights. Undocumented for 13 years, she received Amnesty in 1987 and became a US citizen in 1995.