Spanish-Language Play 'The Political Jungle' Gets U.S. Premiere at Northside's Liberty Exhibition Hall

This Latin-America-set play weaves together a tale of political chaos, love, power and ambition

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click to enlarge Poster art for "La Fauna Del Poder" - Provided by Catarsis Teatro
Provided by Catarsis Teatro
Poster art for "La Fauna Del Poder"

Mar Gámez García first wrote La Fauna Del Poder (The Political Jungle) in the fall of 2013 while studying for her masters at the University of Cincinnati. Inspired by the political climate in Spain, which at the time was in an economic recession, the play weaves together a story of love, power and ambition. 

Cincinnati-based theater company Catársis Teatro has adapted the political farce to America and will give the play its U.S. premiere at Northside's Liberty Exhibition Hall. Prior, it was staged at the prestigious Teatro Lara in Madrid as well as several other Spanish cities. 

García explains that in 2013, Spain had a bipartisan system similar to the United State's current setup, with the Democratic and Republican parties being the main players. 

"But at the time I started writing my play, I was able to foresee that bipartisanship was coming to an end in my country," she says via email. "I wanted to write a play that would explore what would happen to a country and a political system if new parties emerged. Would they be the solution to all of our problems? Or  not?"

Post-writing, García says new parties have indeed emerged in Spain, bringing forth a system consisting of five main groups with no clear majorities. Two general elections were held this year; though April's general election saw the Socialists win most of the votes, they fell short of a majority. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, therefore, was unable to form a government — and so they held another election this November. And again, though he topped the polls, he fell short. 

Despite the chaos, García says that surveys indicate that voters are glad they now have more options. (Turnout for April's election was 75 percent — the highest in 15 years.) 

The forthcoming version of La Fauna Del Poder, however, has been adapted to America and instead of being set in Spain, the play will unfold in an unnamed Latin American country. All 10 actors in the Liberty Exhibition Hall show have Latin American (and Cincinnati) roots. It will be performed in Spanish with English subtitles. 

"The protagonist of this farce is a president in love with the leader of the opposition," reads the play's description. "The play deals with the end of bipartisanship and the emergence of a minority party whose leaders will try to assassinate the president."

Directing the play is Olivia Barrera, joined by stage manager María del Real, assistant director Eugenia Mazur and set designer Ruth de la Torre. The cast includes Henry Rivas, Viviana Mena Smith, Óscar Jair Salamanca Alarcón, Enrique Guemez, Leyda Martínez de la Mata, Eduardo Gómez, Nancy Walton, Angelin Kiplinger, Maribel Andrade Valverde and Gabriel Martínez. 

The cast brings diversity in that they pull from their own backgrounds in several Latin American countries — including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Cuba. García says that seeing the mixture of dialects and accents onstage is "beautiful." 

"They all come from different backgrounds but felt immediately identified with the story I was telling in my play," she says. "It was fascinating to see how the story I wrote can relate to so many people from so many different countries."

She also notes that, in addition, the cast brings together an array of theater backgrounds and skill sets.

Showtimes include 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. Two additional performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. Nov. 23 and 4 p.m. Nov. 24. Ultimately, García hopes that audience members — be they Spanish, Latin American, American, etc. — see that they share commonalties. For one: Our frustration with our politicians. 

"I also hope they can enjoy listening to Spanish and learning more about our cultures," she says. "The play is in Spanish but we will show English subtitles throughout the performance so that everybody can follow it. We are the only Spanish-speaking theater company in Cincinnati and we hope the people of Cincinnati come and watch our play and support the work that we do."

For more info, visit the Facebook event page. Tickets are $15-$20. 

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