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Arts & Culture

SD Rep Latinx Playwright Profile: Daniella DeJesus

Playwright Daniella De Jesús is shown in this undated photo. Her play, "Get Your Pink Hands Off Me Sucka And Give Me Back," will be part of the SD Rep's Latinx New Play Festival.
DANIELLA DE JESÚS
Playwright Daniella De Jesús is shown in this undated photo. Her play, "Get Your Pink Hands Off Me Sucka And Give Me Back," will be part of the SD Rep's Latinx New Play Festival.
The Fifth Annual San Diego Repertory Theatre's Latinx New Play Festival is next month and Midday Edition is highlighting three of the playwrights. This week, Daniella De Jesús.

The fifth annual San Diego Repertory Theatre Latinx New Play Festival is next month and Midday Edition is highlighting three of the playwrights. This week: Daniella De Jesús.

SD Rep and Amigos del REP will hold the San Diego REP Latinx New Play Festival both in-person and with streamed live online performances Sept. 3 through 5.

Playwright Daniella De Jesús had an epiphany after watching Disney's "Pocahontas" and then learning about the real Pocahontas in the sixth grade.

"I was learning about the colonization of the Caribbean and the Americas, and learning how old Pocahontas probably actually was. That she was between the ages of 11 and 14, and me realizing that I'm 11. And there's no way that me having a romantic relationship with a 30-year-old man is OK. That's messed up," De Jesús recalled.

Her play is "Get Your Pink Hands Off Me Sucka and Give Me Back (FKA The Columbus Play)."

"For a long time it was called 'The Columbus Play,'" De Jesús explained. "(But) I had some issues with the title of the play because I was like, I don't want to center on Columbus. I don't want people to think of Columbus as the main character. And so I said what is the story really about? And I think it's more about the insidiousness of colonization and a rejection or an attempt to reject that while also reckoning with your own part of it."

The play involves two separate, but thematically intertwined narratives.

One looks to Solandra, a Dominican-American woman studying abroad in Spain. One day she finds herself alone in the throne room of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand, whose portraits come alive, transporting her to 1492. Then in the parallel narrative, we find Anacaona on the island of what we now refer to as “Hispaniola.” Anacaona awakens, terrorized by a violent nightmare, which she soon learns is a prophetic dream. Meanwhile, Solandra contends with her racial identity, attraction to older white men and their attraction to her.

The dual narratives allowed De Jesús to explore ideas that have long intrigued her.

"I'm really interested in generational and genetic trauma or the idea of generational curses," the playwright said. "The idea that trauma that happens to an ancestor three, four, five or more generations ago can manifest as an anxiety attack or a particular insecurity is really interesting to me. And I like to think that because of that, in a way history is always happening. Like it's not in the past. It reverberates through what we're experiencing right now."

Latinx New Play Festival 2021 Schedule

Friday, Sept. 3

4 p.m. Directing panel

5 p.m. "Black Mexican" by Rachel Lynett

7 p.m. Opening reception

Saturday, Sept. 4

11 a.m. Designer showcase

Noon "(trans)formada" by lily gonzales

2 p.m. Dramaturgy panel

3 p.m. "Get Your Pink Hands Off Me Sucka and Give Me Back" by Daniella De Jesús

6 p.m. "Conjunto Blues" spotlight performance, by Nicolas R. Valdez

7:30 p.m. Reception

Sunday, Sept. 5

11 a.m. Historical Context Panel

Noon: Local project panel

1 p.m. "A Skeptic and a Bruja" by Rosa Fernandez

3 p.m. Closing playwrights panel

This year's festival will be held in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Theatre, which is made available to the festival through San Diego State University and is part of SD Rep’s partnership with SDSU.