Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Ron Irwin
Observer Staff Writer 

Five Young Latinas and one Former 300 Pound Old White Dide Reflect on "Real Women Have Curves"

Playing now through November 15th at the Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank

 

October 15, 2018

Chelsea Sutton

Ana (Julianna Stephanie Ojeda) and Estella (Sherry Mandujano) 3. Ana (Julianna Stephanie Ojeda)

'Real Women Have Curves' a real world story

Virtually everyone who lives in Southern California is aware that there are lots of typically small clothing factories sometimes called "Sweat Shops" in various locations in Los Angeles. We know that they are occupied by people and we know that those people are most often of Hispanic background but very few ever have an inside look into the lives and experiences of these workers and human beings. Now thanks to playwright Josefina Lopez we get a look inside that mysterious world. And as it happens Josefina Lopez is uniquely qualified to present this story because she herself indeed worked in one such establishment as a young woman.

On stage there are five women, all Latina, working at a small clothing factory typically for small pay and sometimes for no pay at all. The working conditions are difficult because being in a city that is often very hot there is no air conditioning making the experience just that much more difficult. They are confronted with a need to make one hundred dresses over a few days with no regard for the working conditions nor for that matter despite the constant threat of a possible invasion by ICE Officers, for one or more of these ladies are undocumented and at risk of deportation.

Yet despite these many and deep challenges the women show a remarkable resilience and even a great sense of humor. There is even a bond of love that hold them together even when faced with disagreement and unpleasantries. The spirit and heart of these women reaches out from the stage to the hearts and minds of the audience and introduces many into a world they would not otherwise know. Ultimately there is a happy development that brings a new level of happiness to the ladies, but it is the journey that is rich and powerful.

It is a very well done and excellent show and well worth seeing. You will come away with the understanding that there can be success, joy and happiness even in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. And it does what playwright Josefina Lopez was in part aiming for when writing this play; it causes us to reexamine the current immigration policies of this nation. I submit that regardless of your political persuasion or position with respect to immigration "Real Woman Have Curves" will at the very least cause you to reevaluate your thoughts on the matter.

So all in all "Real Women Have Curves" is an excellent slice of theatrical entertainment. But I do have but one issue with one tiny yet significant element of the play. At one point it is said, and I paraphrase, that it is okay to be fat. That is wildly not true. Oh I get it, body shaming and belittling others based solely on their physical appearance is uncalled for and unpleasant.

That said the other element at work is the very real and important bit of truth that obesity is one of world's most dangerous and sadly common conditions. It can lead to several deadly diseases including Type 2 diabetes. This I know well because not all that long ago I dropped temporarily dead from Congestive Heart Failure.

Chelsea Sutton

Estella (Sherry Mandujano), Carmen (Blanca Araceli), Ana (Julianna Stephanie Ojeda), Pancha (Jackie Garcia) and Rosali (Claudia Duran)

I weighed over 300 pounds at the time and as I regained conscious during my month long hospital stay I learned that I also had Type 2 diabetes. Now I realize that this goes well beyond the normal bounds of a show review but I believe it is extremely important and I would suggest that Josefina Lopez make just this one minor modification and maybe replace that line with something more like "Accept who your are but also do what you must to stay healthy." Okay so I am not a playwright but I am sure there is a better way to deal with this subject. All that said, go forth and enjoy a powerful yet fun and thoroughly enjoyable show.

"Real Women Have Curves" is playing now through November 15th at the Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA. Reservations and ticketing are available by calling 818-955-8101 or online at: http://www.garrymarshalltheatre.org.

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