One-man show La Esquinita comes to UC Davis
This Friday and Saturday, UC Davis alumnus Ruben Gonzalez will be performing his original play, La Esquinita, which highlights the economic pressures wrought on small towns after big companies leave and move abroad. Gonzalez, who graduated with an MFA from Davis, will be playing all 11 roles in the play.
In the performance, which previously was featured off Broadway in New York City, Gonzalez plays 11 different characters ranging in age and ethnicity. Jon Rossini, an associate professor of Theatre and Dance at UC Davis, looks forward to witnessing how Gonzalez pulls off such a difficult feat.
“[Gonzalez has] to take over a number of different roles and sustain that energy over time and keep track of everything going on,” Rossini said. “What will be fascinating for people will be watching Ruben transforming himself so that you can actually see the different characters emerge out of one actor’s body.”
Grace Lewin, a second-year physics major, is also intrigued by the concept of a one-man show.
“In order to do a one-man show, one would need a great deal of focus and creativity to keep the audience engaged,” Lewin said. “It will be great to see how it can be done.”
Gonzalez not only stars in the play but also wrote the script, which he developed at El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista under the direction of Kinan Valdez. The inspiration for the narrative came to him while he was substitute teaching at a continuation school and witnessed one of his students dealing with the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash. La Esquinita means “the little corner”; Gonzalez’s hope was to give a voice to those with none.
“Giving voice to the disenfranchised, the people put out on the edges, has always been my model for my solo work,” Gonzalez said. “La Esquinita [represents] the corners in our mind where we feel scared, doubtful or fearful, as well as those little pockets of community that don’t have any representation.”
Gonzalez feels that the play will resonate with college students.
“A lot of kids at this age don’t have a voice,” Gonzalez said. “It’s always the parents or the priest. Someone is always telling you what your life is and how to live it and this kid [in the performance] has to figure it out for himself. It’s about hopelessness and how to find the light at the end of that.”
Despite the play’s Spanish name, Gonzalez assures that everyone will be able to relate to the piece.
La Esquinita will play on take place on Jan. 15 to 16 at 7 p.m. in the Wyatt Theatre. Admission is free and seats are first come, first served. Following the performance, there will be an audience discussion with Gonzalez. For more information, go to http://arts.ucdavis.edu/event/la-esquinita