Director: Show aligns with Portales

By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
ccalloway@pntonline.com

Eastern New Mexico University Professor Jon Barr is bringing a story about a girl’s attempt to escape a hard life by becoming a famous soccer player to the University Theatre Center’s Main Stage.

“Guapa” has a message that Barr believes everyone can relate to, but will also show insight to Hispanic culture in a Texas bordertown he says is similar to Portales.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune “Guapa” stars Jazmin Juarez, left, and Janzen Baldwin rehearse Tuesday night for the show that opens up tonight on Eastern New Mexico University’s Main Stage in the University Theatre Center.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune
“Guapa” stars Jazmin Juarez, left, and Janzen Baldwin rehearse Tuesday night for the show that opens up tonight on Eastern New Mexico University’s Main Stage in the University Theatre Center.

Barr is directing the fourth production of the play by Arizona playwright Caridad Svich.

“It’s about the families we assemble more than the ones we’re born into,” said Barr.

The title character Guapa, is played by sophomore Veronica Ayala of Portales.

Barr said several aspects of the show make it unique, including using an audio and visual component to depict the stage’s background as well as the use of three languages.

Due to the play’s focus on soccer, the actors were trained to play the sport by Dusko Bogdanov, assistant professor of health and physical education, and Fanta Cooper, assistant coach of the ENMU women’s soccer team, according to a press release for the play.

A former high school soccer player, Ayala said her knowledge of the sport and Spanish-speaking abilities is what appealed to her when auditioning for the part.

She describes her character as a dreamer.

“(Guapa) had a really rough life. She was on her own for a while,” Ayala said. “She’s afraid to trust people and she’s one-track minded. She wants to be a famous soccer player. That’s the only thing she has that lets her escape from her hard life.”

Ayala said in addition to soccer, she was well-rounded with the activities she participated in at PHS. As a sophomore studying communicative disorders, she had to drop many of those activities, including the many dance classes she took, to make sure her grades did not suffer.

“I’ve had dreams in my day too,” Ayala said. “But I like how no matter how troubled Guapa’s life is, with a loving family, it’s never too late to get a start.”

Freshman Janzen Baldwin of Hobbs will play Lebon, the troublesome brother of Guapa.

“Lebon is very passionate about his ideas but he’s also misguided and unorganized,” Baldwin said.

Though Baldwin feels there aren’t too many characteristics he shares with his character, he identifies with Lebon’s free spirit.

“I guess I want (the audience) to sort of feel for Lebon and take him seriously because he feels like people don’t take him seriously,” Baldwin said.

Barr said soccer represents having a dream and though things may not always go as planned, people often reach success on other levels through their journeys.

“We can draw strength from family and heritage to survive struggles,” Barr said. “Even when you have high dreams, just by trying you achieve and it makes it worthwhile.”

Fast facts

What: Guapa

When: 7 p.m., today through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Where: ENMU’s University Theatre Center

Cost: General admission is $5. ENMU students are free.

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