The Department of Theatre and New Dance’s opens the final studio show of the 2017-18 season with “Real Women Have Curves,” a coming of age story about a teen on the verge of womanhood.
The first show is at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at the Cal Poly Pomona Studio Theatre (Bldg. 25, Rm 110).
Set in Los Angeles during the late 1980s, “Real Women Have Curves” follows Ana, who hopes to attend college one day. For right now, however, she’s working in a small East LA sewing factory as the youngest in a group of five Latina women. As the group endeavors to meet impossible deadlines looming on the horizon, they discuss their lives, loves and deepest desires.
Told from Ana’s point of view, the play tackles issues surrounding gender politics and the Latina immigrant experience.
“Real Women Have Cuves” director B.J. Dodge said although the play has its light-hearted moments, it tackles series topics including the demonization of immigrants, the subjugation of women by men, as well as feeling constricted by family, culture and tradition.
“This story is extremely timely in the days of #MeToo when women are not just whispering but speaking and yelling about the reality of their lives in the workplace, at home and in the nation, and as immigrants,” said Dodge, adding that playwright Josefina Lopez’s 1990 work “is still absolutely of the moment.”
The play consists of an all-female roster of characters portrayed by theatre students Samantha Avila, Yovanna Quintero, Janeth Garcia, Alma Becerra and Raelene Hernandez.
“I think this play, with these particular women playing these particular roles, is very much about relationships of trust and how collaboration forces us to cooperate and allows a kind of connection that you’d never guess could happen between these women,” Dodge said.
She added that she hopes women viewing the play will take heed of the differences in politics, belief systems and tastes between the characters, and be reminded of how “not monolithic” women are.
“I think women will see themselves in these women because they’re so specific that they can be universal,” Dodge says. “I think women will also get a kick out of what are still so many tropes in women’s relationships with each other, such as the fact that we’re not necessarily taught to trust one another and that we still gossip about each other.”
Men, Dodge said, are offered “an opportunity to have a look at these women and their lives in extremis without seeing themselves within it.”
Directing a play about Latina women and their experiences personally resonates with Dodge, who developed a particular affinity for the Latina community through working with its youth in an after-school theatre program at Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Heights for 27 years.
“I feel as though the inclusivity of Latinx culture is something that I leaned a lot on as a theatre artist,” Dodge said. “It’s given me an appreciation – and hope it’s given me an understanding – for what is courageous about being an immigrant here, especially in this moment. It takes courage for some people to walk out the door.”
“Real Women Have Curves” plays at 8 p.m. on April 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 and 2 p.m. on April 29 at the Cal Poly Pomona Studio Theatre (Bldg. 25, Rm 110).
Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 for Cal Poly Pomona alumni and $10 for all students, Cal Poly Pomona staff and faculty, as well as senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased online.