“Sonia Flew” World Premiere
Inaugurates Boston’s Newest Theatre

Boston playwright and actress Melinda Lopez says the key question in her new play, “Sonia Flew,” is "What do you owe your children, your parents, your country?"

Being presented October 8 - November 28 by the Huntington Theatre Company, the world premiere production of "Sonia Flew" inaugurates the Huntington's new Virginia Wimberly Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. This moving and funny, character-driven work also serves as the first play to be chosen for production from the Huntington's Playwriting Fellows Program.

Huntington Artistic Director Nicholas Martin, who will direct the production, commented, "'Sonia Flew' is the best new play I've read in a long time. The chance of finding a first-rate new play is one in a thousand. It's remarkable that this work came from a development program that's been in existence for just one year."

“Sonia Flew” centers on the immigrant matriarch of a modern-day Cuban-American family whose life was profoundly changed by the rise of Fidel Castro in her homeland. Sonia's parents, fearful of the new Communist government under Castro, sent their only daughter from Cuba to the United States in 1961, fully intending to join her one day.

Set in current-day Minneapolis as well as in mid-20th century Havana, the play's story of two families unfolds as Sonia -- now raising two children with her Jewish husband -- struggles to come to terms with her past, her parents' decisions, her children's choices and her duty to her adopted country.

The backdrop of the play's Cuba-based scenes is the "Pedro Pan" movement, carried out by the Catholic Welfare Bureau in the early 1960s to help Cuban parents smuggle their young children out of the country and into the United States. Between the time Castro came to power and before the Bay of Pigs crisis, many Cuban parents began to fear their children would become wards of the state, forced to serve Cuba's growing military regime.

Thousands of parents made the agonizing decision to send their children, sight-unseen, into the U.S.via Miami. There, churches took them in until the parents could emigrate and reunite their families. More than 14,000 children were brought to the United States where, today, they have begun to re-connect with each other, share their stories and review their histories.

Despite the international drama that infuses the title character's life, Martin says the play is about far-reaching human values and the stories of two families and their decisions.

"'Sonia' has incredible humanity," Martin says. "It has politics as a backdrop, but it is not a political play. All the characters are vividly and honestly drawn, and their conflicts are universal and affecting."

Playwright Melinda Lopez grew up in Bedford, MA, the daughter of two "continental" Cuban parents who married young and spent much of their time in Colombia, where her father - with a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago - worked on weather experiments, making rain.

Lopez says, "They went back and forth to Cuba, and in 1959 after Castro came to power, everyone was initially very excited, so happy. It was a time of huge promise and optimism." After a meeting with Cuban leaders, however, Lopez's father chose to move the family out of the country and they relocated to New England.

Lopez has accumulated an impressive resume of challenging roles on stage, coupled with powerful, well-crafted plays and one-woman shows she often performs herself. She received Elliot Norton Awards for her plays “God Smells Like a Roast Pig” and “Midnight Sandwich/Medianoche,” both for Outstanding Solo Performance. She is the recipient of the 1999 Charlotte Woolard Award, given by the Kennedy Center to "a promising new voice in the American theatre."

After impressing Artistic Director Nicholas Martin and the Huntington's artistic staff in performances of Craig Lucas's “The Dying Gaul” at SpeakEasy Stage Company, as well as in her own works, Lopez was cast in Huntington productions of “A Month in the Country” and last season's “The Rose Tattoo.”

In the Fall of 2003, Lopez received a Calderwood Commission from the Huntington (along with fellow writers John Kuntz, Ronan Noone and Sinan Unel) to participate in the Huntington Playwriting Fellows program - a two-year residency for local playwrights run by Huntington Literary Manager Ilana Brownstein, and funded by the Huntington's Stanford Calderwood Fund for New American Plays and the LEF Foundation. It is from that program that “Sonia Flew” was born.

The company of “Sonia Flew” all inhabit double roles, playing Sonia's own modern-day Cuban-American family bas well as her family and friends in Act Two's flashback to 1961 Cuba. They include Carmen Roman, Jeremiah Kissel, Will Lebow, Amelia Alvarez, Zabryna Guevara and Ivan Quintanilla.

The Huntington will again offer a series of Club Nights. Designed both for theatregoers 35 and under, and for theatregoers in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities, these nights provide an opportunity to mingle with fellow theatregoers and the Huntington's artistic team at a pre- or post- show reception (free with purchase of tickets).

These special evenings include:

Sponsored by The Boston Phoenix
For theatregoers 35 and under
Thursday, October 21
7:30 P.M. performance, with a post-show reception

Sponsored by Bay Windows
For the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered community
Wednesday, October 27
7:30 P.M. performance, with a pre-show reception

Learn more about theatre - both what's on stage and what's happening behind the scenes - with this exciting new interactive program.
Begins at 6 P.M., Tuesday, November 9.

A presentation by a member of the Huntington's artistic staff, featuring contextual background, as well as production-related information.
Tuesday, October 12, in the theatre.

There will be a Humanities Forum on Sunday, October 31, following the 2 P.M. matinee. Humanities Forums are free and open to the public.

The cast from “Sonia Flew” will assemble on stage after the show to participate in an open dialogue with the audience. The Actors Forums will be held on Thursday, October 28, following the 7:30 P.M. performance, and on Wednesday, November 3, following the 2 P.M. matinee.

For tickets and information, call 617-266-0800 or visit www.huntingtontheatre.org.

-- OnStage Boston



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