Play turns sharp, masterful eye on immigrant experience; it'll stage at The Armory Nov. 10-26

COURTESY: JENNY GRAHAM/OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL - In 'Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles,' Medea, played by Sabina Zuniga Varela, looks to the night sky with her son Acan, played by Jahnangel Jimenez.Ancient Greek tragedy meets modern-day Los Angeles in the next play at Portland Center Stage.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival recently put on "Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles" for six months in Ashland, and the same show and cast will take the stage at The Armory, with opening night Nov. 10. It'll stage through Nov. 26.

"Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles" is a retelling of "Medea" seen through the lens of immigrants to the United States.

By playwright Luis Alfaro, it blends tragedy, humor and Mexican folklore in a modern setting to unleash the power of Euripides' ancient tale of love, transformation and betrayal.

The Spanish word "mojado" or "mojada" translates to wet, and it's a slur akin to "wetback" for Mexican immigrants, Alfaro says.

"It's a word that existed in my vernacular since I was little, so it's a word that, for me, has a lot of resonance and a lot of power," Alfaro says. "I wanted to disarm that word. I wanted the word to re-appropriate itself. I wanted for us to own the word, and see how ugly that word is, and also give it new meaning."

"Mojada" is directed by Juliette Carrillo and features Sabina Zuniga Varela as Medea, Lakin Valdez as Jason, VIVIS as Tita, Nancy Rodriguez as Josefina, Vilma Silva as Armida and Jahnangel Jimenez as Acan. New to the company is Ken Yoshikawa as Soldier.

"The reason I adapt the Greeks is to reinterpret them to say something important about the time we're in right now," Alfaro says. "In this case, it's the ongoing immigration debate in this country. 'Medea' embodies the immigrant experience. What is the price we pay when we come to a new country? ('Medea') is a whole class of people — extraordinary people who work very, very hard to hold on to who they are as they navigate the waters of immigrating to America. The experience of trying to make it, to fit in, is a universally American experience."

The ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides concerns a former princess, Medea, in the kingdom of Colchis. She is the wife of Jason, who leaves her for another princess, Corinth. Medea seeks vengeance on him by killing Corinth and her own children, and escapes to Athens.

Alfaro, a Chicano writer/performer, is the first resident playwright of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. "Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles" had its world premiere at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater in 2013.

The staging of "Mojada" is a bit of a celebration, as part of Portland Center Stage's 30th anniversary season. The company originally was founded as the Portland branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival before becoming independent in 1994.

The play is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, as well as 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, Nov. 10-26, at Portland Center Stage at The Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave. Tickets start at $25. For more:

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