A date with Mexican Expressionism in ‘Mariela in the Desert’

Blana (left) played by Ali Scordato consoles her mother Mariela (right) played by Kate Austin-Groan in Mariela In the Desert at Bas Bleu in Old Town Fort Collins. The play, which had a soft opening for students and educators last night, opens this evening at 7:30pm.
Blana (left) played by Ali Scordato consoles her mother Mariela (right) played by Kate Austin-Groan in Mariela In the Desert at Bas Bleu in Old Town Fort Collins. The play, which had a soft opening for students and educators last night, opens this evening at 7:30pm.

 

With the frigid temperatures becoming more and more paralyzing, the Fort Collins community could use an escape into the desert, even if it is only for a few hours.

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Bas Bleu’s first play of the spring season, “Mariela in the Desert”, is set in 1951 Mexico during the great Mexican Expressionism era with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

The play centers on the pain that a couple experiences in marriage, according to director Robert Braddy.

“It’s the hurt that grows in seriousness which they never resolve and they never talk about. They grow bigger and bigger until finally they have to be spoken of and resolved,” Braddy said.

Jose, a mediocre painter, wants to be in the circle of great painters while his wife, Nella, is the real artist.

However, she is needed at home with an autistic son and her diabetic husband.

CSU Theater alumni, Dan Tshirhart, plays Adam, an older art history professor who is dating Jose and Nella’s younger daughter.

“The thing that resonates with me about him is how much he gets excited about art and how much he loves it and how passionate he is about it. He lives and breathes art,” Tshirhart said.

The play is a cast of six, a smaller than normal production.

“It’s a dream cast. I couldn’t ask for a better cast,” Tshirhart said. “You get closer to people when you have small casts. It’s easier to gel that way.”

Braddy began working on this show last spring and has put countless hours into the production.

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He says that the play is more of a psychological drama on the need to communicate and be open in relationships.

“It is absolutely a beautiful play. It’s wonderfully written and it is very stimulating. It is a play of certain complexities which is intriguing,” Braddy said.

“Mariela in the Desert” is especially relevant to the community because it deals with difficulties in communication.

“I think the ability to communicate at the deepest most sensitive level is essential in human relationships,” Braddy said. “When we don’t communicate we have kinds of difficulties that end up in conflict. And confrontation. And that is not a desirable thing.”

Although the play is primarily a drama, there is a touch of comic relief.

“It’s not a comedy by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s a lot of humor in it and there’s a lot of interesting situations,” Braddy said.

Tonight’s performance is pay-what-you-can night. Saturday’s official opening night will be followed by a free reception sponsored by Yellowtail Wines, Fort Collins Brewery and Butter Cream Cupcakery. Thursday, Feb. 7 is Artists Benefit Night where all ticket sales will go to the theatre practitioners. To purchase tickets go to basbleu.org or call 970-498-8949.