The story is divided in three acts, each focusing on a specific location. The first act begins with the family preparing to move from thecountryside to San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico, in search of a "better life". The second act takes place a year later in San Juan, specifically in La Perla slum, where the family has moved. The final act takes place yet another year apart, in The Bronx, New York, where the family has ended, looking for a better life.
The most recent production of the play stars Johanna Rosaly in the role of Gabriela.It was performed on March 2009 in Caguas and Santurce in Puerto Rico and will return to the stage in September and October 2009 in Mayaguez and Santurce. The show is produced by New Moon Productions and directed by Pablo Cabrera.
Chaguito: a mischievous adolescent, very street wise, who hates school and is extremely aggressive and disrespectful—he ends up arrested for theft.Doña Gabriela: a widow and mother of Chaguito and Juanita and stepmother of Luis; she has a strong character which is undermined during the transition to the city; she is bound by her role as mother and is very protective of the insecure Luis by supporting his decision to move the family, thereby stifling her true feelings
Juanita: the character who experiences the most development in hertransition from a docile personality to a strong, politicized one; she challenges the traditional concept of honor and the double standard that obligates women, not men, to maintain the family honor, which she defies by becoming a prostitute; her political development comes as a result of witnessing the oppression of minority groups in New York City, especially through judicial inequalities
DonChago: Doña Gabriela’s widowed father who is stubborn in his refusal to follow the family when it leaves the farm for the city; he symbolizes the strength of traditional values through his idealistic love of the land and his nostalgic treatment of the “old days”; he is very sensitive and intelligent with definite anti-government, anti-capitalistic, and anti-clerical tendencies; he stays behind tospend his remaining days in a cave and dies
Luis: Doña Gabriela’s oldest “son” (he is actually the son of her husband and another woman) who assumes leadership of the family; his idealism takes the form of love of progress exemplified in machines and industry; he is completely assimilated into the mechanized world and is insensitive to his surroundings; he dies, ironically, from a freak accident atthe factory
Germana: a nosey neighbor on the farm who tries to marry her daughter off to Luis, to no avail
Lito: a lively, happy-go-lucky boy who lives in the family’s neighborhood in San Juan
Matilde: described as a plump 35 year old who encourages Juanita to enter into the life of prostitution in “La Perla”, San Juan
Doña Isabel: 44 year old former teacher who now helps her husband, DonSevero, at the saloon; she is described as tall and slender, well-spoken and well-dressed; has a brief affair with Luis, who is really interested in her niece, Martita
Paco: 30 year old Puerto Rican writer and radio announcer who meets Juanita in New York and proposes marriage
Lidia: 26 year old friend of Juanita in New York; slender and tall with long hair and bangs
Mr. Parkinton: 40 year oldAmerican preacher, described as tall and thin, with a patronizing attitude towards the Puerto Ricans he is trying to convert
Synopsis Of The Play
Act I takes place in an unidentified mountainous region outside of San Juan. The family—Doña Gabriela, Luis, Juanita, and Chaguito, are packing for their move to San Juan. There is a great deal of tension in this scene as the family remembers...