PROPERTIES OF SILENCE is currently performing at The Carrie Hamilton Theatre, located on the second level of the Pasadena Playhouse.
PROPERTIES OF SILENCE was written by Theresa Chavez (who also directs it), Rose Portillo (who plays
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz), and Alan Pulner. The cast is complete with Elizabeth Rainey as Barbara and Kevin Sifuentes as both Tom and the nun’s confessor, Miranda.
Tom and Barbara live in contemporary Phoenix. They are married, employed, each fulfilling the duties expected under their marriage contract. But Barbara’s inner voice is loud. Sor Juana, on the other hand, lives in a convent of the 17th century. She loves to learn, to explore, to write, but the Church thinks that’s a job for men. In a feverish dream, Barbara and Sor Juana meet. They are women belonging to different times, but with similar concerns. What happens when our outer trappings no longer add up to what is inside us? That’s the question that is seeking an answer.
Both the stage and the costumes for the play are simple. Sor Juana wears a habit. Barbara looks like any of us. Sifuentes has to rush back and forth changing from contemporary clothes to those of a priest. A video, created by Janice Tanaka, is projected against a wall. It emulates the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and it helps to tell the nun/poet/feminist’s life story. The background music is original work by vocal artist Julie Adler.
There are light moments, as when Sor Juana “discovers” the wonders of refrigeration and of bottled water, and more profound moments, as when Sor Juana’s poetry is recited. You should attend this play only after reading Sor Juana’s biography and some of her poetry. It will help you better understand the story.
Since this is a one-act work, each performance has been paired with a POST-SILENCE series of poetry readings, panels, and discussions to follow the play after an intermission. If you like poetry, this second half is delightful. Here is the POST-SILENCE performance schedule:
March 5 – Post-play discussion with PROPERTIES OF SILENCE playwrights
March 6 – Post-play discussion with PROPERTIES OF SILENCE playwrights
March 7 – Vocalist Julie Adler / Poet Eve Wood / Musician/actor Ellen Burr
March 8 – Benefit reception and performance in The Pasadena Playhouse’s Historic Makinenin Library (tickets are $60 on this date only)
March 12 – Poets Nicelle Davis / Laurel Ann Bogen / Amy Uyematsu
March 13 – Poet Gloria Alvarez
March 14 – Scholar Barbara Fuchs, PhD
March 15 – Poets Iris de Ana/ Felicia Montes/ Rebecca Gonzales / Xitlalic Gujosa Osuna
March 19 – Panel discussion – Women Who Submit
March 20 – Poets Gail Wronsky and Alicia Portnoy
March 21 – Writer/Performer/Activist Karen Anzoategui
March 25 – Young Theaterworks: post-play
March 26 – Poets/Writers Las Lunas Locas
March 27 – Young Theaterworks: student poetry night
March 28 – Maestra Atelier Artist Discussion
March 29 – Closing night salon
PROPERTIES OF SILENCE and POST-SILENCE will run through March 29. Tickets are $30 general, and for students with valid ID $15. They can be purchased online at http://www.aboutpd.org or by calling (626) 396-0920. The theater is located at 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena 91101.