The Most Powerful Play of 2018
Sex trafficking is the modern slavery with over 40 million victims, plaguing women in Chicago, New York, Austin Texas, Washington, and Mexico. As awful as this sound, one of the worst places for young females to get raped and murdered is in Ciudad Juarez. A place that is made of a melody of factors for the perfect receptive crime, where sex trafficking and femicide is as easy as waiting on the next bus. The meditative killing of women just because they are women is an international occurrence with some very appalling worldwide statistics.
Playwright Isaac Gomez sheds some truths in his miraculous play ‘La Ruta' (The Route) a story based on real people who disappeared on their route coming home from working in the U.S. owned factories in Ciudad Juarez in the desert. Centered on Yolanda whose daughter Brenda, who went missing in 2008 and who was only 17 when she was kidnapped sets the tone and message for the storyline.
This all-woman play filled with the horror that the women of Ciudad Juarez are faced with daily, disappearing in the desert; and unfortunately where their stories and loss lacks the attention of the media, and news outlets. The play shares the testimonies of the women left in the aftermath who are resilient as they endure the powerlessness of the institution in which they live and work. Carrying the tragedies of the mysterious loss of their daughter's, sisters and friends; these women fight for justice and raise their voices to be heard even if it means losing their own life.
The moment that you enter the theater a profound statement permeates the front of the stage with pink crosses lined up representing the many lives of the beautiful women that have been murder but not forgotten. This is the informal memorial site known as ‘Desaparecidas’ amidst the nonexistence action from the Mexican Government, created by women whose daughters, sisters, cousins are still missing.
La Ruta dramatically sets the tone of women trying to understand their new normalcy after their loved ones have been taken. This is where we meet Marisela (Charin Alvarez) a mother whose daughter by the name of Rubi was murdered by her boyfriend and dismembered when she was 16. Her boyfriend confessed to the crime and was acquitted of all charges.
Marisela sets and waits at the bus stop at 1 am with her friend Yoli (Sandra Delgado) who both have worked at the U.S. owned factory to meet Yoli’s daughter who has just recently started working at the same factory.
La Ruta takes you on the frightening, mind-boggling fatal journey of Yolanda’s daughter Brenda (Cher Alvarez) through a series of flashback dates leading up to her disappearance in the desert. Brenda who has a pure soul of innocence has been entrapped and becomes the latest statistic of sex trafficking and femicide by her co-worker and friend Ivonne (Karen Rodriguez).
Ivonne who is caught up in a world of deceit is enlisted, unwillingly to lure unsuspecting girls into sex-trafficking to solidify that no more harm comes to her or her family. It has been dually noted that she is the last person to be around the women when they go missing by her co-worker Zaide (Mari Marroquin) who has become very suspicious of her actions.
Playwright Isaac Gomez kept his promise to the women in Ciudad Juarez to bear witness and carry their stories forward by delivering a compelling story of a perfect storm for a murderer made up with multiple elements.
Elements such as underdeveloped streets that are not safe, a criminal justice system with a history of exemption that fuels rape and murder, a drug war that augmented the human trafficking of women by certain organized crime-related elements and lastly special geography that includes numerous connected factors.
Director Sandra Marquez does a formidable job with the real testimonies of the women families in the aftermath of their beloveds who has disappeared. Using live music (played by Laura Crotte) to evoke the factory work and protest as well as pictures of each woman flashed against the wall who has disappeared in the desert, gone without a trace but never forgotten.
Steppenwolf once again provides its audience with a thought-provoking performance that is worthy of theatrical acclaim. It makes each person that views these amazing plays, think about how life truly is and educate its viewers with wisdom about how the world truly operates in the darkness and the light of day; even though we tend to forget or what to avoid it. The aftershow where people can discuss the aftermath of the play is definitely worth attending.
Let’s Play ‘Highly Recommends’ La Ruta’ a play that will open your eyes to the truth of a particular area in Mexico that has been hit hard with femicide and sex trafficking. It is also a story that unearths the dark secrets buried in the desert and a celebration of the Mexican women who stand in the loss of their loved ones.
Written by Isaac Gomez
Directed by ensemble member Sandra Marquez
December 13, 2018 - January 27, 2019
Filed under: ChicagoNow