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Monday, September 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Stage Left opens ‘Beyond Barriers’ season with ‘References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot’

Paul Villabrille as Benito and Marlee Andrews as Gabriela in Stage Left Theater’s “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot.” (Kyle Prothe)
Paul Villabrille as Benito and Marlee Andrews as Gabriela in Stage Left Theater’s “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot.” (Kyle Prothe)

Stage Left Theater has dubbed its 2019-20 season the “Beyond Barriers” season.

“This season’s goal is to engage the audience in exploring and celebrating the struggles of individuals and communities,” Deborah Brooks, Stage Left’s marketing director, said in a news release.

The first step in achieving that goal is “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot,” which opens Friday and runs through Sept. 22.

“References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot,” which was written by José Rivera, is influenced by the works of Gabriel García Márquez and Dali, especially “Two Pieces of Bread Expressing Sentimental Love.”

“The painting by the master of surrealism inspired Rivera’s lyrical theater piece, and, like the painting, the play was full of hidden layers and details that provide a further insight to the piece and the context of its creation,” director Juan Mas wrote on Facebook.

“The painting, like our play, raises questions about relationships, love and hate, hope and disappear and the fragility of the human condition.”

The play follows Gabriela (Marlee Andrews), a young woman who lives in Barstow, California, while her husband, Benito (Paul Villabrille), is away at war.

While waiting for Benito to return, Gabriela’s friend the Moon (Rick Ibarra-Rivera) descends from the sky to comfort her, distressing Coyote (A.J. Scott), who has been talking with Gabriela’s cat (Jacque Swanson).

Then, Martin (Ramsey Thoms), Gabriela’s teenage neighbor, enters the scene, jealous of the relationship Gabriela and the Moon share.

Soon after, Benito returns home from the war. The pair’s tumultuous marriage leads to an argument, and eventually Gabriela offers Benito an ultimatum: He can choose his career in the Army or his life with her.

“References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot” premiered in Costa Mesa, California, in 2000 and opened in New York in 2001. The same year, Rivera won the Obie Award for playwrighting.

Performances in London and Chicago followed, as did productions in Los Angeles and the main stage of Harvard University.

Stage Left’s production marks the Washington premiere of the play.

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