The first question that comes to many of our minds is what does Óye Oyá mean?
Óye: Spanish for Listen up, hey.
Oyá: an Orisha (a spirit that reflects one of the manifestations of the Supreme Divinity) of winds, lightning, and violent storm and the guardian of the graveyard in the Cuban religion of Santería
How did Milagro create Óye Oyá?
It all goes back to two years ago, when inspired by an Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights grant and the National Endowment for the Arts, Milagro set up to do something that hadn’t been done here before: an original Spanish-language musical. The creative team consists of some long-time collaborators: Rebecca Martinez is writing the book based on a treatment by Rodolfo Ortega, who is also music and lyric composer. Olga Sanchez, Milagro’s Artistic Director Emérita continued with the show as dramaturg. Four drafts, three readings, a translation, a national-level audition, and numerous edits later, we have gathered the entire team with artists based both in Portland and New York for rehearsals, more edits, and gearing up for opening on April 28, 2017!
We asked director Estefanía Fadul for the scoop on what Óye Oyá is shaping into:
This is a story that is dealing with really complex political situations on a very human level. We get to follow these very real, flawed, fascinating characters through a journey with a lot of heart, heartache, community, and joy.
It’s a story about a young woman in Cuba, Yenisel. She’s part of the 20-somethings generation and has a father who has been trying to get her out of Cuba her whole life. She is caught between his desire to get her out and her own ambivalence about what she wants for herself. The story is about her coming to a point where she can take charge of her own future. A big part of her journey is meeting Javier, a Cuban-American who winds up shipwrecked on the island. What happens when these two people with very different life experiences, but bound by a common tie to Cuba, come together?
On a larger scale, the story asks ‘How does a society let go of the baggage of the past to clear a path towards a new future?’ Our story takes place in Cuba right now, April 2017, and we are exploring where the country might be headed, especially as our world is going through so many changes and there are so many changes within Cuba and for Cuba-US relations. It’s about looking to the past and trying to overcome the tensions that have built up through history to try to move forward into a brighter future.
Estefanía answers: How is this based off of The Tempest? How does music fit into this story? And who is this Oyá?
The storyline is inspired by The Tempest, and many elements of this are still there. For example, the story starts off with a magical storm that is created to bring a boat to the island. The difference is that the storm is created by Oyá, one of the orishas of the Cuban religion of Santería. She is the orisha of the storms who controls the wind and rain, and the guardian of the cemetery, as well as the orisha of death and rebirth. With her iruke (a whip made of horse hair), she cleans away the past and brings about change. Oyá, acting through the character of Doña Teresa, is the Ariel equivalent from The Tempest. Like in The Tempest, there is a father who is being eaten away by bitterness and a desire for revenge, and a daughter who is able to reach beyond this to create the possibility for forgiveness and a new future.
Music is very important in Óye Oyá because of its prevalence in Cuban culture. Composer Rodolfo Ortega was inspired by the musical genre of the Cuban zarzuela, which was in turn inspired by the original Spanish zarzuela. When that original form came to Cuba, it was more of a traditional operetta, and then a lot of other musical rhythms and styles from the Caribbean were incorporated into it. So the Cuban zarzuela is a mix of operetta and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The music in Óye Oyá is inspired by salsa, the Cuban son, opera, musical theatre…there is something for everyone!
Don’t miss this momentous show at Milagro!
Help Make Our Work Possible – Sign up to usher
What’s ushering at Milagro like? Ushers are an integral part of hosting our productions. Their tasks include: greeting patrons, ensuring the lobby and theatre are welcoming and clean, passing out programs, and helping patrons to their seats. You get to make the show go on and see the show for free. If you are interested in ushering for Óye Oyá sign up here and you will be given an orientation when you arrive to volunteer. No previous experience necessary.