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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Herbert Sigüenza's 'Bad Hombres/Good Wives' Premiers At San Diego Rep

 October 2, 2019 at 7:20 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 What do you get when you mix the importance of being earnest? The school for wives, a narco tele novella and lots of bhanda songs to sing along to bad own braise. Good wives at San Diego rep, KPBS arts reporter Beth Armando speaks with the reps, playwright in residence, Herbert sequenza with the artistic director, Sam Woodhouse about the new comedy Speaker 2: 00:23 Herbert. You've written bad Andres, good wives that's going to be performed at the San Diego rep. give us a little background on what this story is about. Speaker 3: 00:30 Bad rooms is good. Wives isn't loose. Very loose adaptation of [inaudible] the school of wives and I've also added some other mashups into it. There's a little bit of a, the importance of being earnest. There's Romeo and Juliet and there's Hamlet and all these Eurocentric plays are mashed up into a narco novella. So it's, it's Moliere in Sinaloa. Speaker 4: 00:54 We come in tonight, hands up nursing, most merciful father, the soul of my brother Mario gotten party every commit his body to the ground. Speaker 2: 01:04 And are you, you've enjoyed kind of mashing those kinds of elements up before you did L Henry, which was Shakespeare and that was brilliant. Speaker 3: 01:13 Thank you. Yeah, that was in 2014 where we, uh, where we have L Henry in a post apocalyptic, a San Diego, which was a lot of fun. We did it outdoors for the wow festival. Speaker 2: 01:23 Sam, this has come through the Latin X play festival, new play festival. And so what is this like for the rep to kind of mentor in a play like this and then see it through to full production? Speaker 5: 01:36 Well, Herbert is our playwright in residence courtesy of the Andrew w Mellon foundation. The fact that we have a Latin X festival became a platform for the presentation of this play as part of its development. But Herbert wrote this play in residence at our theater with the intention of us producing the play. And we are, here we go. Speaker 2: 01:57 Herbert, what do you feel are kind of the themes that you want to play up that you want to connect with the audience? Speaker 3: 02:02 It's exploring the myth of machismo because it is a myth. It's, it's, it's, it's something that's in our culture that it's acted upon. And, and, and, and, and, you know, we're now living in the, in the era of me too. And so I wanted to write something that addressed machismo in a new way. You know, because it's an old narrative. It's an old way of being right for a man to be in society. So we wanted to explore those themes in this play and just put my cheese on it, on, on, on hold, on hold and undisplaced to see how ridiculous it is and how dangerous it is. It really is Speaker 5: 02:37 what happens when the traditional macho Mexican man runs into the young girl that he thought was his pawn and being raised to be the perfect subservient wife. And she turns out to be a feminist raised in an unary. Speaker 3: 02:52 I think it's important to tell you about the original story. And it's a, it's about a man who, who a young girl that's being trained to be his perfect, loyal, submissive wife. You know, I mean, to me that's comedy already, you know, because that, that's impossible, right? But so, so this guy has the, he has the gall to think that he can do that. Right. And so of course she bring, he brings her to his town and she falls in love with a younger, uh, more age appropriate narco that she falls in love with. And so that's how the the Wars and show you [inaudible] Speaker 2: 03:27 now, now you are not only the playwright here, you are also acting in it. And not only are you acting in this, you are playing a woman. So talk a little bit about this role. Speaker 3: 03:36 Well, if you know by work, that's probably not a big surprise. Yes. I thought, I thought playing a woman in this particular play was important because I'm a man playing a, a dignified woman, you know, a traditional woman, an older woman. And it's just interesting that I, as a man, I'm making commentary about machismo and about feminism and marriage, but I'm a man, you know? So I think it's, it's, it's, it's, it's just ironic and I love that. Speaker 2: 04:06 And I just got to see part of the rehearsal. Talk a little bit about what goes on in the rehearsal process for you in terms of fine tuning the plane, fine tuning what's going on on stage? Speaker 3: 04:17 Well, we're now in our second week and that's when you start turning, you know, you start making, you start getting better, you start realizing, you started knowing, you're staging your, your lines and, and this is where we're turning the curve and it's starting to really set the play. It's a new play too. So the first week was all about the script and explorations and discussions, Speaker 5: 04:39 but this being a new play, you can see you were in a rehearsal. It changes we made today. That happens all the time, hour after hour, we're making changes. It's just getting a little better. Little by little, as the broth is rising towards the top, hopefully, and becoming funnier and cleaner and clearer and sharper and smarter. Speaker 3: 05:00 Yeah. And a play really doesn't come alive. It really doesn't live until you're into ya stage it. So we don't know that we don't know these things. We don't know these lines until we're in the space. And what have been the particular challenges of putting this play on? I feel very comfortable in this John HRA, which is slapstick comedy, uh, with a political bent. So I'm very at at ease right now, but, but I, I trust Sam to, to, to bring it out even more. And that's why we're, we worked together so well because I think he knows what I want and I'll suggest stuff. And if it works at, you know, it stays, we're just trying to create a show that's gonna be hilarious and, and it really is, it's going to be, I think it's my, my funniest play for sure on paper and probably onstage. You mentioned this Speaker 2: 05:47 political comedy. I've interviewed some people who do political comedy and they said that we are at a time when they feel like they want to retire because they can't compete with what's going on in the real world Speaker 3: 05:58 in terms of how absurd it's getting it. So how do you kind of attack political comedy in this particular time? Well, it'd be quite frankly, I think this is my least political comedy. Uh, it's more about the human condition. It's about, it's a sex farce, you know, and, and it's, and it's unapologetically funny and I think that's what we need right now. You know, I, I don't really want to write a play about kids in cages. You know what it would, what would that, we see that on the news every day. I don't have any commentary on my, not my commentary is outrage of course. But you don't want to go to the theater to the year that you know, so, so right now I think we need a laugh, you know, we need to show our culture and how beautiful we are and, and I think that's, that's to me it's political. How do you think comedy can help kind of get a message across in ways that other things cannot? Speaker 5: 06:46 Well, when people are laughing, they are open. They are much more open to an idea, to a thought, to a message when they're laughing. Or you could also say when a piece of music is being played, people are more open to being influenced by a point of view. When you're laughing, you surrender to the moment. How about that? And then the moment can be expressed from the stage as we wish. And I think comedy opens up your heart, which opens up Speaker 3: 07:14 in your mind. Yeah. And then that's, that's the great opportunity to inject some message in a message in there. Speaker 5: 07:20 You know, the other thing that this is, is this a behavioral social comedy? Yeah. We're, we're having fun putting on stage the various manifestations of machismo. That's funny actually. And also a feminism as well. That's funny too. If you push it, any of those isms far enough, you arrive in the land of humor. Speaker 3: 07:44 All right. Well, I want to thank you both very much for talking to me about bad Andres and good wives. Speaker 5: 07:50 Thank you. Can't wait to show it to people. Can't wait to finish staging. [inaudible] Speaker 6: 07:55 he escaped too. They had a good head phone. Oh, Speaker 3: 08:06 San Diego wraps bad on good wives. Opens tomorrow and runs through October 27th on the Lyceum stage. Speaker 6: 08:22 [inaudible] who gave you the it [inaudible]. [inaudible] that's when [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] y'all [inaudible] Hey, don't bother me. [inaudible] [inaudible] Ooh.

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The comedy is a loose adaptation of "The School for Wives" by 17th century French playwright Molière, about a man who sends his love interest to a convent to be trained to be his loyal, submissive wife. Sigüenza describes his new play as "Molière in Sinaloa."
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