“Sotto Voce,” the latest play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz, is presented by Teatro Paraguas from September 29 through October 15.
Directed by DS Magid and starring Francesca Shrady, John Reiser and Juliet Salazar, “Sotto Voce” tells the funny, poignant and sometimes painful story of a 29-year old Jewish-Cuban man (Saquiel) who goes to New York to connect with an 80-year old female German writer (Bemadette), whose work he idolizes.
Saquiel is on a mission for information. He wants to recover memories of the ship S.S. St. Louis, which left Nazi Germany in 1939 filled with Jewish refugees, including his grand-aunt, to find a safe haven in the Americas. Another passenger on the ship was a young Jewish man whom Bemadette had loved. The ship was turned away by Cuba, the U.S. and Canada and had to return to Europe, where the passengers eventually perished in Nazi concentration camps.
“The third character, Bemadette’s maid Lucila, is also an integral part of the play,” explains Magid, a playwright who has numerous local and national acting and directing credits to her name. “Her relationship with Bemadette deepens after Saquiel comes into their lives.”
Magid has divided the stage in half for the production. On one side is Bemadette’s apartment, while the other side is the setting for a library, the deck of the ship and the street outside Bemadette’s apartment.
Magid describes the three characters as very complicated individuals who have robust outer and inner lives. “This play is carefully and densely written,” she adds. “It’s like a poem. The ending is not expected, but it’s earned.”