The Maroon

Student’s play confronts US terrorism

Alina+Gordillo%2C+theatre+arts+sophomore%2C+is+interrogated+by+a+police+officer%2C+jazz+studies+junior+Miles+Crabtree%2C+in+%E2%80%9CThe+Witness%E2%80%9D.+The+play+is+a+one-act+directed+by+theatre+arts+senior+Rachel+Christian+and+tells+the+story+of+the+six+Jesuits+murdered+in+El+Salvador+by+U.S.+trained+soldiers.
Alina Gordillo, theatre arts sophomore, is interrogated by a police officer, jazz studies junior Miles Crabtree, in “The Witness”. The play is a one-act directed by theatre arts senior Rachel Christian and tells the story of the six Jesuits murdered in El Salvador by U.S. trained soldiers.

Alina Gordillo, theatre arts sophomore, is interrogated by a police officer, jazz studies junior Miles Crabtree, in “The Witness”. The play is a one-act directed by theatre arts senior Rachel Christian and tells the story of the six Jesuits murdered in El Salvador by U.S. trained soldiers.

ZACH BRIEN/CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

ZACH BRIEN/CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Alina Gordillo, theatre arts sophomore, is interrogated by a police officer, jazz studies junior Miles Crabtree, in “The Witness”. The play is a one-act directed by theatre arts senior Rachel Christian and tells the story of the six Jesuits murdered in El Salvador by U.S. trained soldiers.

DIANA MIRFIQ

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“The Witness” is taking center stage to launch the Spring Senior Project One-Act Festival.

Theatre arts senior Rachel Christian will combine her expertise as a theatre major and Latin American studies minor to present her version of “The Witness,” an award-winning, one-act play written by Loyola’s very own professor, the Rev. Ernest Ferlita, S.J. The play will also feature original music by Loyola’s Stephen Bohnstengel, jazz studies senior.

Christian’s take on “The Witness” will not only focus on the six Jesuits that were killed in El Salvador in 1989, but also shed light on state-sponsored terrorism.

Christian struggled with how to combine her theatre and Latin American passions into one senior capstone project, but fortunately Theatre Chair Georgia Gresham came to her rescue.

Christian explained that Gresham wanted her to do one project and encouraged her to look at “The Witness.”

“She told me that I had the theatre department’s support and it could be a great opportunity for me,” Christian said.

Christian realized “The Witness” had been done before at Loyola, but the previous version only focused on the Jesuit’s deaths.

“It was a success, but it was done from a Jesuit perspective. They focused on the Jesuit martyrs at the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador and their deaths. I will be bringing in a Latin American point of view this time around,” Christian said.

Christian expressed her gratitude to the assistant professors of languages, Nathan Henne, Uriel Quesada and Blanca Anderson, for helping her express not only the true horror of the event, but also the United States involvement in the El Salvador civil war.

According to Christian, the United States funded six billion dollars to the El Salvadorian army in order to counteract the peace efforts of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. The money helped kill thousands of people in El Salvador.

“It was really great to see the play’s bigger picture and I absolutely think that is due to the Latin American studies work that I’ve done,” Christian said.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to ease into this half hour production.

“You get thrown in as an audience member as well as an actor. The audience is thrown into the middle of a 14 daylong interrogation. While there is only four days in the script, it really shows the interrogation techniques that the U.S. brought to Latin America,” Christian said.

Theatre arts sophomore Alina Gordillo plays Maria, a witness who survived the massacre. She is interrogated by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to figure out what happened to the Jesuits that day.

“The play shows how the Americans tried to blame the rebels for the massacre, when in fact it was an American funded army that killed the Jesuits,” Gordillo said.

Junior theatre arts student Sam Morel plays Roger, a very serious and aggressive FBI interrogator. His job is to break Maria emotionally.

“It’s one big outburst. I slam table, accuse her of lying about everything, scream in her face and drag a chair at one point. We do things to psych Maria out,” Morel said.

Gordillo and Morel are best friends in real life and find it amusing how they are cast as enemies. However, Gordillo said she isn’t afraid to take Morel’s verbal abuse.

“I’m told Sam to stop apologizing and just make me cry,” Gordillo said.

Gordillo describes how each rehearsal was an eye opening experience for her.

“In one scene I describe how I’ve spent all of my time huddled under mattresses protecting myself from stray bullets. It’s really horrible to think that people are actually living like this,” Gordillo said.

Gordillo has previously worked with Christian on “El Nogalar,” but this is Morel’s first time. He explained that there have been many fun moments and the cast has developed a family dynamic under Christian’s direction

“Besides having a good product at the end, Rachel wants it to be a good experience for everyone involved, which is definitely refreshing,” Morel said.

Christian thinks that everyone should see “The Witness” because of its strong connections to Loyola. Not only was it written by former Loyola professor Fr. Ferlita, but it also centers around the Jesuits. In addition, the play pays homage to the large group of Latin American students on campus.

“‘The Witness’ also stands out because of the strong Latin American influence in the play. There is a large Latin American population on Loyola’s campus that I don’t feel gets represented enough in the arts,” Christian said.

Morel said the play will be an eye-opener about the political strife that is happening right under our noses. Not many would have known about this massacre if not for the Jesuits and the church.

“It could’ve been swept under the rug,” Morel said.

Morel hopes that “The Witness” makes students aware of the world outside of the United States.

“There is a lot of struggle and a lot of awful things happening outside of your political sphere and outside of the bubble of America. It doesn’t hit you until you realize how close to home it is and this is what this play does,” Morel said.

‘The Witness’ is part of the Senior One-Act Festival that is set to run in the Lower Depths Theater on April 7 at 2 p.m. and April 8 and 9 at 7 p.m.

“It’s truly something you should support because it’s a student run production,” Christian said. “Everyone should also go to the other senior projects because they’re going to be a mix bag of comedy and tragedy. A lot of the actors are double cast and you get to see multiple sides of your peers.”  

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