Rosemary Chesney, arts and living editor
On Thursday Sept. 15, Core Ensemble presented Los Valientes by Jose Cruz Gonzalez, a chamber music theatre production featuring a solo actor, David Perez-Ribada. Perez-Ribada played three Hispanic historical figures. Despite the vastly different characters, from an atheist artist to a passionate archbishop to an infamous convict, themes of social injustice tied the production together and related to issues in America today.
After performing at Berry last year, this 90-minute concert featured an instrumental trio along with Perez-Ribada including: a cellist, a pianist and a percussionist. Sophomore Kyle Lowe attended the concert for his world music class and said it was one of his favorite ce events ever.
“I would say that most ce credits are purely educational, but this one was educational as well as entertaining,” Lowe said. “The music and performance aspect helped with this. I also felt like I was learning rather than being taught at.”
The first character in the three-act concert was an artist who lived between 1886 and 1957 named Diego Rivera. Despite being born in Mexico, Rivera painted murals around the world before returning to Mexico in 1921 and involving himself with the communist party. Many of his paintings contained a political or anti-religious theme. Sophomore Benjamin Dixon said that Rivera seemed like the least moral of the three characters.
“I feel like the artist was the only one who did not have a motive that was good,” Dixon said. “He seemed like not a great individual, but it was cool to hear his story and appreciate the art.”
Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero was the second character played by Perez-Ribada. Born in 1917, Romero spent his life speaking out against injustice of the poor by using radio broadcasting. After his assassination in 1980, Romero is now seen as a martyr for hope and peace in El Salvador. Junior Caspian Beard said that Romero was his favorite of the three characters.
“I liked the priest probably because he felt like the most intense and emotional character,” Beard said. “It was interesting that all three [characters] stood up for rights, but the priest was the only one who stood up from a religious standpoint.”
The last character was an outlaw during the California rush era named Joaquin Murrieta. After Americans murdered his brother and wife, Murrieta became a bandit during the late 1800s, fighting against racial and social injustices through violence and theft. His life has now morphed into a folk legend in Mexico
“I would say Murrieta is definitely the most morally grey of the three characters,” Lowe said. “You can see where he is coming from with his family’s death, but [Murrieta] also steals and kills so you can see it from both sides.”
According to Beard, the concert explored themes of racial inequality and social injustice, which ties into issues in America today. All three characters also discussed America’s mistreatment of Mexico from the Americans forcing Rivera to take his mural down, to Romero failing to receive sufficient financial aid to finally Murrieta’s land and family being taken away from him.
“There was also a theme throughout the concert of ‘just being yourself,’” Lowe said. “All three characters were at different levels of likability, but all had the courage to just be themselves in a way.”
Music from the cello, piano and percussion corresponded to Perez-Ribada’s performance. The music assisted not only in transition between parts, but also in accenting various moments of Perez-Ribada’s speaking. As a music major, Beard said that his favorite aspect of the production was the music.
“I think I was mostly focused on the rituality of it,” Beard said. “Seeing the cellist doing all these crazy techniques, like getting on top of the bow, was really cool and weird.”