With a lint roller, hairbrush, spray bottle, and rags in hand, Las Vecinas (a neighborhood chorus) prepares Electricidad (Emily Williams) for what is to come. The Chorus, clockwise from lower-left: Alma Osuna, Michelle Uribe, Jacqueline Lohoro, Sophia Hernandez, Laura Redondo, and Aneleh Rodriguez.

9 Miles in 21 Years

Chicano playwright Luis Alfaro was born and raised nine miles from East Los Angeles College in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles. And now, 21 years after its first performance, his 2003 play Electricidad comes to the ELAC Black Box Theater.

Director Cristina Frías has assembled a student cast of 10 women and two men from the Theater Arts department. And one corpse from the prop department. Electricidad’s father, Agamenón, “El Auggie,” is murdered by his wife and Electricidad’s mother, Clemencia, shortly before the start of the play. Electricidad has brought his body back from the cemetery to the front yard of her home. The play begins with Electricidad weeping over her father’s shrouded corpse.

Director Cristina Frías works with actors Emily Williams (Electricidad) and Hennessey Gamón Gonzalez (Abuela, Electricidad’s grandmother)

10 Plays for $10

MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient and the Director of the MFA Dramatic Writing Program at USC, Luis Alfaro once found a book of 10 Greek plays for $10 at a bookstore in Arizona. It wound up leading to three new Alfaro plays: Electricidad, Oedipus El Rey, and Mojada. Modern adaptations of Sophocles’ Electra and Oedipus, and Euripides’ Medea. Sophocles probably wrote Electra between 420 and 414 BCE. Alfaro’s Electricidad, two-and-a-half millennia later.

The lust for power and vengeance lives on across the centuries, here transported from Argos, Greece, to a 1990s barrio of East Los Angeles, California.

Stage Manager Veronica Torres gives instructions to the cast. This summer Torres will be heading to the Black Hills Playhouse in South Dakota for a stage management internship.

An eye for an eye?

Electricidad, directed by Cristina Frías, marks the first time that Alfaro has been performed at ELAC. However, it is not the first time actor, educator, and storyteller Frías has worked with Alfaro’s writing, having performed the role of Dolores in his play Black Butterfly and Cristina in Painting in Red.

It feels right for a Chicana theater artist and educator like Frías to bring Alfaro’s tale of vengeance to ELAC. Electricidad is poetry. Part debilitating pain experienced by Electricidad, her sister, and her brother. Part laughter evoked by unexpected and mundane contemporary references. Or by Electricidad in a Botticelli Birth of Venus-like pose being primped not by the breath of a god, but by a Greek/bario chorus member wielding a lint roller. Frías has evoked powerful emotion from her cast led by Emily Williams. Is forgiveness possible? Or does Electricidad’s, and our, inner chola demand retribution for her father’s murder? Can her sister Ifigenia show Electricidad that a different path is possible? Or will her brother Orestes help her commit the horror that must be done?

Maribel Chavez as Ifigenia works with fight choreographer Ellen Arroyo, who teaches her how to use a macahuitl (Aztec combat weapon)


Laisha Ruiz, a third-year Theater Arts scenic design major, Krystyna Colocho, a second-year Theater Arts set design major, and Jindy Li, a first-year Theater Arts stage management major, discuss the scenic painting treatment for the brick wall on the set of the ELAC production of Electricidad.
Assistant Director Julia Chavez gives notes to the cast.
Electricidad (Emily Williams) holds up a macahuitl during a conversation with the body of her late father.
Assistant Director Juia Chavez works out scene blocking with Las Vecinas (a neighborhood chorus) as they remove the body of Agamenón, “El Auggie,” Elecricidad’s father, from the front yard of her home.
Director Cristina Frías structures a cleaning scene with Las Vecinas (a neighborhood chorus)
Donato Cortez, a freshman Theater Arts acting major, applies makeup for his role as Orestes, Electricidad’s brother.
The pain of living: Maribel Chavez as Ifigenia during an argument with her sister, Electricidad.
Ifigenia (Maribel Chavez) and her sister Electricidad (Emily Williams) swing macahuitl (Aztec combat weapons) at each other during an argument over the death of their father. Choreography and weapons by fight choreographer Ellen Arroyo.
Lightboard operator Jesus Flores and assistant lighting designer Alyssa Armas run lighting cues during the dress rehearsal for Electricidad in ELAC’s Black Box Theater.
Electricidad and Ifigenia’s mother, Clemencia (Julianna Picasso), argues with her daughter Ifigenia (Maribel Chavez)
Julianna Picasso as Clemencia, mother of Electricidad, Ifigenia, and Orestes. Her mariticide of Agamenón happens just before the story begins and sets the events of the play in motion.
Electricidad expresses her pain and doubt in a monologue in front of her father’s body in the front yard of her home.
Hennessey Gamón Golzalez as Abuela, Electricidad’s grandmother, with Erick Valenzuela as Nino, Orestes nino.
Electricidad (Emily Williams) cries out in pain over the death of her father.
Electricidad (Emily Williams) comforts her brother Orestes (Donato Cortez) in the midst of unbearable family tragedy.
Director Cristina Frías and Assistant Director Julia Chavez share notes after dress rehearsal.
Assistant Stage Managers Jindy Li and Joey Mendez remove decorative elements from the corpse of Agamenón at the end of dress rehearsal.
Dramaturg Miriam Cervantes prepared extensive research to help the Electricidad cast understand their roles in the context of Chicano cultural heritage.
Dramaturg Miriam Cervantes prepared extensive research to help the Electricidad cast understand their roles in the context of Chicano cultural heritage.

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