OnStage Playhouse is a theatre that is not afraid to tackle current and challenging topics. In fact, James P. Darvas, the Executive Artistic Director of the theatre was specifically looking for opportunities to explore. The result is MONUMENTAL HISTORY, a world premiere production available January 8th through the 24th, a show made that has five diverse writers look at history, present-day, and what to do about public statues and what they mean.
MONUMENTAL HISTORY is 6 monologues by 5 San Diego playwrights who include Thelma de Castro, Salomon Maya, Carla Navarro, Herbert Siguenza, and John Wells III. The cast of the show includes Jose Balistrieri, Leo Banls Jr, Emily Candia, Sandra Ruiz, Claudette Santiago, and James P. Darvas.
Led by Darvas, OnStage Playhouse believes that civil conversation leads to empathy, empathy leads to change, and he wanted a show that explored different angles and encourages conversation. This led to the idea of a topic that was dominating the news in 2020, the removal of statues in public places.
The show’s concept came to me on the opening night of our last production. I was sitting outside brainstorming “what can we do next that really shows people that we are listening and empathetic to the current challenging political on social environments?”
I called my good friend Salomon Maya and we started spit-balling ideas. We needed to keep the actors as safe as possible and came up with a monologue piece. From there we tossed around ideas of a topic. I screamed “Statues, people are destroying statues!!!” and we went from there.
Once we put together a team of insanely talented writers we gave them about 8 weeks to work together in a virtual room, send multiple drafts and we settled on final drafts the first week of Dec.
Finding the playwrights for this project meant finding people who themselves were diverse, and bring their specific voices and points of view to this discussion.
We wanted the piece to explore as many perspectives as possible. We wanted to make sure that the voices were voices of people that don’t look alike, voices that grew up in different places, voices that have different histories. The writers of this piece reflect that.
In a virtual theatre world collaboration is king, and Darvas says that working with these playwrights on this project was a wonderful experience.
The process was truly collaborative. Meeting weekly, virtually, gave us the opportunity to create this entire world, we were able to explore this world through different decades and weave small similarities throughout the pieces. It’s really wonderful. These 5 playwrights are wonderful, they are graceful, respectful, and were so very open to the process.
Along with being an intriguing piece of theatre, Darvas does hope that this piece inspires audience members to examine the subject and perspectives different from their own.
Like all of our pieces at OSP, we hope that our productions spark a conversation. We hope with this piece specifically that we open people’s eyes to other people’s history and perspectives. We hope that after viewing this piece people say, ” Wow, I never thought of things like that?”
MONUMENTAL HISTORY by OnStage Playhouse is available online at www.onstageplayhouse.org from January 8th-24th. The live-streamed performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8pm PST and 5pm on Sundays PST.
Directed by James P. Darvas and Emily Candia
Starring: Jose Balistrieri, Leo Ebanks Jr, Emily Candia, Sandra Ruiz, Claudette Santiago, and James P. Darvas
Produced by: Kelsie R. Morris
Scenic Design: Duane McGregor
Costume Design: James P. Darvas and Sandra Ruiz
Sound/Projections Design: MaeAnn Ross
Lighting: Zephyr Landie
Photo Credit: OnStage Playhouse
Looking for more interveiws? Click Here