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Memories from the past are not forgotten

By No Longer Associated with Splash Magazines - Mary E. Montoro

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The typical young girl at 10, 11, or 12 years old concerns herself with her friends, going to the movies and dreaming of her magical wedding with that cute boy in her English class. At that same age, Soledad del Campo worried about the secret police barging in her home to kill her entire family. Upcoming playwright Janine Salinas places her main title character in Chile during the violent Pinochet regime in the 1980s. Anyone who opposed the demanding ideals to the President of Junta of Chile was subjected to unimaginable torture. Her parents Patrícia and César (Virginia Pereira and Oscar Basulto) ties with the revolution puts the family in danger and are forced to leave or die.

Luz (Christine Mantilla) and Pablo (Amador Plascencia Jr.) decide to leave their native Chile

The del Campo family escapes during the night leaving behind a grandmother and their eldest daughter Luz (Christine Mantilla) who is part of la revloucíon. After a harrowing trek to America, the Chilean family begins a new life in California. Soledad (Vicky Villalvazo) records every moment of her family’s journey who have no outside financial or emotional support. Everyone handles their current situation differently, and that affects others.  César, once a proud man and an active political figure, descends into a bitter alcoholic working menial jobs to support his family. Patricía tries to keep the family together but eventually becomes physically and mentally exhausted adjusting to the new life and the change it takes upon the family. The once renowned professor works as housekeeper for a living and passionately holds on to the hope of returning home.

The middle daughter Inez (Chrissy Torres) wears out everyone with her rebellious attitude and adolescence drama. Her anger in leaving Chile, with no clear explanation, manifests in fights with Soledad and arguments with her mother. She wants to fit in with her new Anglo friends and easily assimilates into the new culture. Soledad keeps her journal and pen always by her side and jots down what she sees. The bitter and the sweet. Each family member reveals their private thoughts and fears of leaving. César recognizes the brutal changes within himself and feels lost. Inez chooses to forget Chile because the memories brings her sadness. Patrícia doesn’t worry so much for herself but for her older daughter Luz, who is still in Chile and pregnant, may not be alive. The family is connected in sharing the same thoughts but everyone, except for Soledad, behaves in the opposite way.

Patricía (Virginia Pereira) and her oldest daughter Luz (Christine Mantilla) say goodbye for the last time

The family is under watchful surveillance of two Chilean soldiers played by Federico Patino and Will Salas. They loom over the del Campos like a permanent shadow and a reminder of their past. They physically left Chile but their mind is still back home.  As a writer, Salinas understands that documenting a family history is the only way to preserve the heritage. It not only reminds the family what they experienced but also provides a vivid description for the next generation. Villalvazo does an excellent job as the del Campo scribe. As Soledad, she has the uncanny ability to understand the other family members' points of view.

Patricía (Virginia Pereira) assures her youngest daughter Soledad (Vicky Villalvazo) that everything will work out in America

Under the excellent direction of artistic director Edward Padilla the story moves without hiccups or awkward pauses.  The family steps back and forth in time as they leave their country and enter a new one with hope and dread. Though the del Campos aren’t an extraordinary family, their experience is amazing and how they survive it is a story worth telling. This is a wonderful opener to Casa 0101 new season. Except more work to follow of this emotive and dynamic caliber.

Casa 0101 is located at 2009 E. First Street in Los Angles. For more information call 323-263-7684 or log on to www.casa0101.org

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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