Cast of “The House on Mango Street.” Courtesy of The Classic Theatre

“The House on Mango Street” returns to the Classic Theatre this month due to popular demand. Amy Ludwig’s adaptation of the Sandra Cisnero’s novel first performed at the Classic Theatre in September last year. The adaptation’s ample praise has prompted another round of performances from April 6-15.

This production has eight cast members, six of whom take on numerous roles. Since there are only a few seconds in between scenes, a minimal amount of props are used throughout the play. To signify the actor has taken on a different role, that person might be wearing an apron or a hat they weren’t wearing before.

The script was almost word for word from the book.

“The House on Mango Street” is a Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age novel, in which Esperanza tells her heartwarming and heartbreaking story of growing up on Mango Street. Esperanza, her sister and her friends explain the importance of growing hips, “they are good for holding a baby when you’re cooking.”

Cisneros portrays domestic abuse through Sally, a young girl who gets trouble with her father for talking to a boy. “He just forgot he was her father between the buckle and the belt.” Cisneros highlights sexual harassment through a scene between Esperanza and a coworker “…he said it was his birthday and would I please give him a birthday kiss. I thought I would because he was so old and just as I was about to put my lips on his cheek, he grabs my face with both hands and kisses me hard on the mouth and doesn’t let go.”

Many scenes within this novel resonate with Chicanas, who can sympathize with Esperanza and her desperation to escape Mango Street. Bella Villarreal, who plays young Esperanza, does a fantastic job of conveying all the emotions a child feels when embarrassed to call their house a home.

The setting of the novel and the play is in Chicago, where Cisneros lived for some time as a child. While attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Cisneros started to experiment with writing from her own experiences rather than trying to imitate the white male voices of the traditional literary canon. Cisneros has become a leading figure of the Chicanx literary movement. She is best known for “The House on Mango Street” and “Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories”. In 2015 Cisneros was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Obama. Cisneros currently resides in central Mexico.

To purchase tickets for “The House on Mango Street” visit classictheatre.org.

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