Staging a play in the middle of a pandemic

Puerto Vallarta’s Dionisio Theater Group Overcomes Unexpected Challenges

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This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Amigas Desgraciadas (Unfortunate friends) is the new project of Puerto Vallarta’s Dionisio Theater Group. However, the staging of the play has faced an unexpected challenge: the Covid-19 pandemic. How has this process been amidst the current social distancing restrictions and when could this play premier on stage? The director and cast talked to Out & About PV about it.

Dionisio Theater Group is one of the most active Spanish-speaking local companies in the region since its founding in 2012. Over the course of eight years, they have premiered the following plays: Abuelita de Batman, Las Anécdotas del Miembro, La Ley del Ranchero, El Hombre Sin Adjetivos, Las Tramoyanas, El Estigma Ardiente, La Posada, Las Divas de Rancho and El Destripadero Veraz.

Among these projects, La Ley del Ranchero, Las Tramoyanas and Las Divas de Rancho have conquered the LGBT+ audiences for addressing topics related to this community and/or for featuring casts of men performing women’s characters. 

For 2020, Dionisio had originally planned to premier a play that follows this line, the comedy Amigas Desgraciadas, written by the Argentine playwright Hugo Daniel Marcos. However, the play has been continuously postponed due to the restrictions that emerged as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was originally scheduled for the month of August in order to commemorate the 8th anniversary of Dionisio Theater Group; but currently the company is setting the first season of the play by the end of this year or early 2021.

Amigas Desgraciadas tells the story of a group of five friends who meet at the apartment of one of them every Thursday to drink tea and play poker. In one of those encounters, some secrets come to light and lead to a very tangled and fun situation. The cast, completely composed of men features Juan Carlos Ramírez (who is also the director), Juan Pablo Hernández, César Bravo, Vilchis Joya and Alexis Velasco.

Ramírez explains: “It’s a light comedy, full of entanglements. For this story, the playwright himself suggests featuring an all-men cast and I find the idea very interesting because of the personality of each character and how they act.

Rehearsals and social distancing

“The first reading of the script, which marked the beginning of our rehearsals, took place on May 4th and it was through a videoconference platform because in that period the instructions from the Puerto Vallarta authorities were to stay at home as much as possible. We had this type of rehearsal for several weeks,” Juan Pablo Hernández says.

“During that period when it was not possible to meet in person, we took the opportunity to go through the psychology of our characters, determine how they were going to speak, the costumes and hairstyles. Later, when conditions allowed us to meet respecting a distance of 1.5 meters, we began to have our first face-to-face rehearsals, always using face masks and following all the protocols. In fact, I think that when the public has the chance to see the play, they will realize that all the movements of the characters on stage were carefully established by the director in order to keep the proper distance between each of us and the public,” Alexis Velasco adds.

Is the play premiering through a streaming platform?

Regarding this possibility, Juan Carlos Ramírez mentions: “We will continue to work keeping a positive attitude and with the aim of providing the public with the show they deserve and as soon as the authorities allow live performances as normal. We know that these days we have the option of performing live and remotely through a streaming platform (something we have done previously with other projects such as “Las Divas de Rancho”), but we think that the best option is always to have that face to face interaction with the public and we hope this will happen soon because we really to be onstage.”

Although some entertainment venues are currently beginning to open their doors with reduced capacities, Dionisio has decided to wait a little longer to ensure the safety of the attendees and the cast.If you want to stay up to date on the premier of Amigas Desgraciadas and more information regarding Dionisio, follow their Facebook or Instagram page. The company has also opened its own YouTube channel where they have launched a documentary series on the staging process of Amigas Desgraciadas.

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