New play helps break cultural barriers


Daniel Maraccini, Features editor

The new Diablo Valley College play “Oedipus El Rey” finished out a strong opening weekend on April 25, after playing to a near sold out DVC Arena Theater.

Written by noted Chicano playwright Luis Alfaro, “Oedipus El Rey” is a modern adaptation of the classic Greek play by Sophocles.

Instead of the typical ancient Greek setting, Alfaro’s work is set in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood, where Latin gangs compete for respect and profits.

While in a dream, troubled youth Oedipus (Cesar Garcia) is told that he is destined to kill his father. Believing his beloved Tiresias (Omar Osoria-Pena) to be the father, he rejects this prophecy. But after a love affair with Jocasta (Tatiana Cafaro) and a series of disturbing revelations, Oedipus’ conceptions of fate are challenged.

Director and long time DVC professor Ed Trujillo found the change of setting to be both refreshing and faithful to the original.

“I liked the idea that it was so specific to the Chicano community,” he says. “And that by being so specific, it’s really kind of universal in a way, because everyone has (these struggles) in their culture. By setting it in a modern context, I think it makes it more accessible to a contemporary audience.”

For viewers familiar with Sophocles’ version, it may be easy to understand what Trujillo means. In the original, some of the most violent and dramatic sequences, like Oedipus killing his father King Laius or Oedipus tearing his eyes out, happen off stage.

In “El Rey,” these scenes are played out. This gives a modern feel to a production that, in its original version, is quite different from the theater we see today.

While the interaction between Garcia and Cafaro is usually front and center, the performances around them were also a highlight. Brandon Turner plays a mean and brooding King Laius, and Omar Osoria-Pena steals nearly all of his scenes as the blind mystic Tiresias.

DVC student Tyler Iiams likes the changes, and thinks novice theater-goers will too.

“Seeing (‘Oedipus’) with more of our own culture in it makes the message inside the classical play a lot more accessible for the audience,” he says. “It sort of takes it from the past and catapults here.”

“Oedipus El Rey” will show at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays through May 10. Two additional 10:30 a.m. shows will be held on April 30 and May 8. For more information visit the DVC drama website.