Synopsis of Lesson 443: Fiery fifteen year-old Cari Gonzalez, wishes she could hide her Mexican heritage but it’s written on her face and alive in her voice. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she uncovers a terrible secret her father and aunt have hidden from her- a secret which may have been a catalyst in her mother’s tragic death 15 years prior. Despite the unforgiving ghost of her mother, Cari must learn to accept her family, her heritage, and her accent in the world premiere of this vibrant, award-winning comedy. (Courtesy moxietheatre.com) Recommended for ages High School and above.
The play Lesson 443 was set in the present day in Ohio, USA. It had four actors, one of which played both twin characters of the aunt and mother (ghost). The main protagonist Cari was born in the United States, moved to Mexico and at then returns to the U.S. in her pre-teens. The play’s characters were all dynamic and flawed. The actors were very talented and did an amazing job portraying both powerful and subtle emotions such as grief, doubt, anger, love and many more. Also the actress (Daniela Millan) who played Cari had the difficult job of playing a character with a pronounced accent while still making her words believable, understandable and heard and Millan did an incredible job.
The music and sound was fitting and helped aid the transition of scenes and emotions. From soft acoustic guitar melodies to bone-jarring rock music and airport terminal sounds, the soundtrack was wonderful and fitting. The lighting was wonderfully done with backlighting and other professional techniques which allowed for the audience to note the passing of time and added to the mood of the characters onstage.
Although the Moxie Theatre’s stage is not huge the set design and props were carefully chosen and took advantage of the entirety of available stage space. The stage space allowed for easy transition from scene locations. Split into three main spots, one location served for outside the home as a restaurant and airport. The other two locations were divided by doorways, one being Cari’s bedroom and the other being the front door and living room. The stage was open, easy to understand and flowed without many interruptions of the main plotline. All of the aspects lend to the play’s believability and relatability to the audience. The play was well organized and as all the different parts came together it lent to a beautiful play’s ability to spread its powerful lesson of being true and honest not only to the people in your life but also yourself.
Tatiana Suarez-Pico is the playwright behind Lesson 443. She received her MFA from Actors Studio Drama School/ New School University. She was a freelance writer in NYC and is the co-creator of the Brooklyn, NY teen web comic BodegaAve.com. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and has had several of her plays published by many theatre companies such as the Piper Theater Company. Tatiana’s current work includes being a staff writer on NBC’s show PARENTHOOD. (Courtesy Lesson 443 program notes, Moxie Theatre).
Cast of Lesson 443:
Daniela Millan made her debut in Lesson 443 as fourteen year old Carynne “Cari” Gonzalez, the play’s main protagonist. She is a student at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts and dances with The Hispanic Arts Theatre. She also took part in the 2014 Shakespearian Intensive at the Old Globe San Diego.
(Courtesy Lesson 443 program notes, Moxie Theatre).
Wendy Waddell played two roles in Lesson 443, as Maggie Ringwald (Cari’s deceased mother whom she speaks with as a ghost) and Lottie Ringwald (Maggie’s identical twin and Cari’s absentee aunt). She is a veteran actress with many roles at Moxie theatre and other playhouses. Waddell got her BFA in Theatre from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts at the Lee Stratsburg Institute. She’s a Teaching Artist with Playwrights Project and Junior Theatre. (Courtesy Lesson 443 program notes, Moxie Theatre).
Anton Mabey played R, Cari’s boyfriend, in Lesson 443. Anton received theatre training from the San Diego Junior Theatre and San Diego City College. He is currently studying voice acting at San Diego School of Rock in Liberty Station. (Courtesy Lesson 443 program notes, Moxie Theatre).
Paul Araujo plays Manny Gonzalez, Cari’s father and Maggie’s husband. This is his debut play at Moxie Theatre, though he himself has many other acting credits under his belt. Araujo has an AA in Theatre Arts from Southwestern College and also attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. He is also a singer, percussionist and guitarist. (Courtesy Lesson 443 program notes, Moxie Theatre).
Moxie Theatre is a nonprofit theatre established in 2005. Its mission is to create more diverse and honest images of women for our culture. It has full seasons of productions, outreach programs for schools and The School of Moxie for actors of all levels. Moxie Theatre has won and continues to win a multitude of awards. Moxie Theatre’s productions endeavor to bring controversial subjects to light with their plays, cast, crew and playwright’s Moxie, which they define as “courage, pluck, gumption, perseverance and guts”. Find out more at: http://www.moxietheatre.com/
Tatiana Suarez-Pico, Daniela Millan and Jennifer Eve Thorn ( Moxie Theatre’s associate artistic director) were also recently interviewed on KPBS radio, “San Diego Moxie Theatre Presents ‘Lesson 443’ ’’. Hear or read the transcript of the entire interview at: http://www.kpbs.org/audioclips/24306/#transcript/