July 3, 1998
By Robert Quintana
With an all new cast and director, Dreaming Pancho Villa, the critically acclaimed play by 19 year old Mabelle Reynoso, is out once again on the San Diego circuit. It was originally featured as part of Playwright Project's annual Plays by Young Writers series at the Old Globe Theatre in November 1997.
Reynosa began writing as a little girl, helping her father write scripts for home movies. She was formally introduced to playwriting at the age of 16, submitting her first winning script, Santa Does a Mitzvah, to the 1995 California Young Playwrights Contest.
In Dreaming Pancho Villa, 13 year old "Ruby" is at a stage in her life where she is very angry and bitter over her parents divorce. She feels alienated from her culture, her family and seemingly everyone else. That's where Pancho Villa comes in. "Pancho Villa is usually portrayed as a villain by Anglos and as a revolutionary hero by Mexicans," said Reynoso. "In the play, Villa helps her to deal with her problems and they become friends."
The play has received strong reviews from audiences and critics. Anne Marie Welsh, a critic of the San Diego Union Tribune, described Reynoso's writing as " unbuttoned imagination showing real promise," and the dialogue as "deftly dancing around cultural identity issues and Mexican history."
Deborah Salzer, Founder and Executive Director of Playwrights Project, worked to extend the life of the production. "Dreaming Pancho Villa is such a wonderful, complex and culturally relevant piece. We wanted more Mexican American families to enjoy this poignant play written by one of their daughters."
Reynoso, who studies Film and Television at New York University, is back for the summer to work on her play. But, she also has other interests. She has a passion for drawing and has produced cartoons as well as claymation projects. Both tasks take an inordinate amount of patience that sometimes bring out the wild and weird side of her character.
"When you're sitting at a table and realize that twentyfour drawings equal 1 second of animation it can drive you crazy," she said. In fact, one project for an animation class involved a bouncing ball. Reynoso's "ball" turned out to be an eyeball and the sequence ended with the eyeball bouncing into an eye socket.
You probably won't see anything of the sort in Dreaming Pancho Villa, however, the show does promise to excite the imagination.
The all new cast features San Diego actors Josh Weiner, Melody Gonzales, and Goyo Flores, who also directs the production.
Performances are July 9 and July 16, at the San Ysidro Civic Center, 212 W. Park Avenue, San Ysidro, 7:00 PM8:00 PM. Admission is free to the public.
For more information call the Playwrights Project at (619) 239-7483.