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Saturday, February 6, 2016
School Desk

Getting into the act

By Sarina Trangle
Osjua A. Newton/The Riverdale Press
Paul Bryant, 17, consults the directions for lighting during a Jan. 18 rehearsal for the Bronx Theatre High School’s production of ‘Marisol.’

Joel Conde, a junior at Bronx Theatre High School, crept out from behind a grey screen, and stalked across the stage while describing life as a homeless New Yorker.

“The street breeds new species. And new silence. No spoken language works there. There are no verbs to describe the cold air as it sucks on your hands. And if there were words to describe it, Marisol, you wouldn’t believe it,” Joel said while rehearsing his role as Lenny for the high school’s upcoming production of Marisol on Jan. 18.

The play follows Marisol Perez, a 26-year-old Puerto Rican from the Bronx, Lenny, who is obsessed with Marisol, and his sister June as they struggle to adjust to life without guardian angels. New York City is enveloped in chaos after most angels stop watching humans to fight against God, who is dying.

Daniel Rodriguez, the director of Marisol and an English and performance teacher at Bronx Theatre, said the juniors’ staging of Marisol started with a careful analysis of the play in English classes. A committee of the school’s art teachers chose the work because they felt its magical realism, allegory and symbolism would enliven class discussions. 

Marisol is Bronx Theatre High School’s first production of a play written by a Latino, according to Mr. Rodriguez.

“We felt it would be beneficial to have a Latino voice because so many of our kids are Latino,” he said of Mr. Rivera, the first Puerto Rican playwright to be nominated for an Oscar. “It’s a powerful piece and it’s also set in the city, places in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, places they know. It’s also people who look and sound like them.”

Junior art classes then began planning for the show. Performance students were assigned roles and began rehearsing. Students in fashion design classes sewed the costumes, some from scratch. Those enrolled in the school’s theater business course planned advertising and marketing campaigns promoting Marisol’s February debut. 

Set design students helped reconfigure old props and construct new lighting fixtures, tables, a bed, a chair and other furniture.

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