Marisol By Rivera Essay Research Paper Marisol

Marisol By Rivera Essay, Research Paper

Marisol, a play written by Jose Rivera, is the play I enjoyed reading the most

this semester. Rivera, one of the leading contemporary Latin American

playwrights, writes with an image. After reading Marisol, I came away with a

very specific picture of what Rivera had in mind. He easily combines the

realistic moments of life, the dangers of the Bronx, dealing with an emotionally

unstable young man, Lenny, and the friendships developed with those we work

with, with his world on the verge of apocalypse where the mundanities of life we

take for granted have changed. Marisol has elements of pure theology where

Rivera’s own possible musings are written in to his characters. These elements

include the appearance of Marisol’s guardian angel in Marisol’s dreams, the

threat to Marisol’s life in the form of a woman turned to a pile of salt and the

smoke from a fire in Ohio blocking the sun in New York City. These all occur in

the first act before the War of the Heavens begins. This play was written in the

early nineties, copyright 1992, 1994, and revised and copyrighted 1999. Rivera

was very specific in his stage directions and overall views of the design and

production of the play in order to facilitate his image. These stage directions

and other designs should be followed by the people producing his play in order

to produce the image the play means to impart to the audience. He poises a gold

crown, suspended in the air over the set, over the actors, over all of his

creation, signifying God. But this crown, this God, remains motionless, remains

detached from all the proceedings. To support his unnervingly imminently

apocalyptic world, the mundanities that we would take for granted that are

missing from Marisol’s world, like the moon and the extinction of coffee, are

dropped to the audience in a conversation between June, a co-worker and

Marisol’s best friend, and Marisol at work(Rivera 22-23). To accomplish the

subtlety of unnerving the audience, Rivera gives a perfect office building; two

desks, a radio, books, papers, the New York Post (Rivera 20) contrasting

perfectly with the utter absurdity of facts pouring out of their mouths. This

show should be done in a small theatre, and for design explanations, I will use

the Studio Theatre at Towson University. This will allow the action to be

closest to the audience, including them in the show. The set would consist of

three brick walls painted directly onto the walls of the theatre. The wall

behind the center rows of seats would remain black due to seat proximity. The

back wall of the staging area (backing the scene shop) would be painted to the

rafters , leaving the balcony itself black but the wall behind the upper balcony

painted. The wall would have faux windows with iron gates on them running

horizontally at about four feet above the floor. The two side walls would also

have brick running up above the balcony. The two side walls would be completely

masked by a black dropcloth for the first act. There would be two wagons used in

Act One, neither bigger than 8 feet (which I am guessing to be the width of the

scene shop door). The graffiti’d poem, "The moon carries the souls of dead

people to heaven./The new moon is dark and empty./It fills up every month/with

glowing new souls/and carries its silent burden to God./Wake Up." (Rivera,

9) will be painted on the scene shop door which will remain closed. All

entrances and exits will be from the four studio doors. The exterior door of the

studio will be Marisol’ s apartment door and have a series of locks she will

lock behind her. It will only be used once. There will be a ladder from the

balcony to the floor that the angel will use for her entrances. It will lock

onto the bars for support. On one of the wagons will be June’s kitchen, and the

other will be Marisol’s apartment, including bed, table, lamp, and clock (Rivera

12). The office will be downstage with the two desks, chairs and props wheeled

in from opposing house doors and meeting in the middle. The gold crown will hang

from the upstage center of the theatre. Act Two will see the removal of the two

wagons to the scene shop during intermission and the removal of the two black

drops from the side brick wall paintings. The addition of various and asundry

trash cans, trash, and piles of junk will help to transform the studio during

intermission. There are three sections of sidewalk making an "I" shape

onstage, running across the backwall, down centrestage and across the foot of

the stage area. The ladder between Marisol and her angel will also disappear.

This should complete the feeling of being in a familiar, yet completely

different place, which is where Marisol ends up. Costumes for Marisol are

relatively simple, the play being a contemporary piece, yet again, in some

places Rivera leaves very specific instructions. Marisol wears a simply cut but

very nice dress with a long winter coat with matching scarf and gloves. She will

change into flannel pajamas in the third scene in act one. For work the next day

she wears a suit, but she looks not quite as well put together as she did in the

first outfit. Her hair is pulled back, but almost unkempt. Her scarf is crooked

and there is a run in her stockings. Later that day, she changes clothing when

she packs to move in with June. She is wearing jeans with running shoes, a shirt

with a sweater over it. Those are the same clothes she wears through the end of

the play. Rivera maps out both of Angel’s costumes. The first act sees Angel in

"ripped jeans, sneakers and black T-shirt. Crude silver wings dangle limply

from the back of the Angel’s diamond-studded black leather jacket." (Rivera

9) At the end of act one, Angel has changed. "The Angel wears regulation

military fatigues, complete with face camouflage and medals? The Uzi is

strapped to her back." (Rivera 35) The Man with Golf Club is simply wearing

rags, "a filthy black T-shirt and ripped jeans?His shoes are rags"

(Rivera 10) June has short red hair, gelled in a spiky hairdo. She has a nose

ring and many earrings. She wears a calf length flared skirt in green, slit on

both sides up to the knee with brown calf high boots with thick heels. A brown

button up shirt with big cuffs and a matching green shirt underneath. Her dark

gray peacoat is thrown over her chair. Later in act two she is dressed like a

skinhead, her short hair slicked down, with black army boots, beat up green army

jacket and surplus pants. Woman in Furs is dressed in a dirty fur coat with silk

pajamas and matching high heels. Man with Scar Tissue is in a wheelchair,

wearing "shredded, burnt rags. He wears a hood which covers his head and

obscures his face. He wears sunglasses and gloves." (Rivera 41) Lighting in

this show in act one could be limited to area washes mostly. There will be light

amber and amber gels interspersed with non gelled lights. There would be a dim

series upstage for in the subway. There is a special at the top of the ladder

for Angel. There is a section for Marisol’s apartment, the office and June’s

apartment. There will be several white Frenels for effects, like in I iv when

the woman outside Marisol’s door turns to salt. There will be a red special to

mix in for when the angel drops her wings of peace. During intermission all the

previously non gelled washes will be gelled primary blue to lend an unusual and

different feel to the second act. Marisol by Jose Rivera is a play requiring

some very specific elements from the designers in order to stay true to the

author’s image. This unnerving image of reality gone wrong in a pre-apocalyptic

world carries the audience through the play by being close to them and dragging

the audience into his vision too.

Rivera, Jose. "Tape" Humana Festival ‘93: The Complete Plays.Ed.

Marisa Smith. Smith and Kraus:1993. 211-218. Rivera, Jose. Marisol. New York,

NY: Dramatist’s Play Service, Inc, 1999


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