By Rachel Sorgen–
In a play that ties the past with the present, “Bloodline Rumba” highlights racial tensions and Cuban history. The play takes the audience back in time to early 1900s in Cuba. Through Sara, one of the main characters, the audience learns about the political unrest after the War for Independence from Spain. Centered around the topics of family, identity, racism and immigration, “Bloodline Rumba” reminds us of the history that led to the life we have today.
Written by U of L professor John Chenault, the play represents the idea that the past is never the past. “The past is present and impacts our lives in ways we often fail to recognize and comprehend,” said Chenault.
The play depicts the life of a Cuban-American medical resident, Ernesto Estrada, who is dating an African-American nurse. Ernesto keeps her a secret from most of the world because he fears word will get around to his grandmother, who is not fond of the idea of her grandson being in a mixed-race relationship. Through unexpected events, he learns of his heritage and the struggles of immigration and racism that his family had to endure.
The play relates to present day America by calling the audience to think about where they came from and how time has changed from generation to generation. It discusses interracial relationships and people of mixed ethnicities, which is now common in America.
The cast embodies the spirit of the play wonderfully. It is evident that time, effort and research have been invested into the production. Emotion can be felt with each event the characters experience. Surprises are revealed as the story unfolds, taking the audience on an unexpected journey. Even though the play can take on a more serious tone, there are bits of humor, allowing the audience to breathe.
While viewing the play, it’s important to remember that the background and setting of the play are based off a true story – the forming of the Independent Party of Color in the early 1900s.
“Bloodline Rumba” play nightly at Thrust Theatre through Feb. 8. The cost of admission is $8 for U of L students, $12 for faculty, staff, alumni and other students and $15 for general admission.