“Cloud Tectonics”: Love is Love is Love is Love

CLOUD TECTONICS by José Rivera, production poster

Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel
by José Rivera
Director: Jaime Carrillo
Musicians: Nick Thorkelson, Mitchel Ahern, Anaís Azul, Francis Xavier Norton, Luz Lopez, Fernando Barbosa
FPTC on Facebook

Aug 8th @ 6:00pm
Hyde Square Task Force
30 Sunnyside Street, Jamaica Plain
(In Boston’s newly designated Latin Quarter!)

Aug 14th @ 7:30pm
The Fort Point Room at Atlantic Wharf
290 Congress Street, Boston

Aug 17th & 18 @ 7:30pm
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston

Aug 21th @ 7:30 pm
Gloucester Stage
267 East Main Street, Gloucester

Review by Diana Lu

(Various locations, MA) I remember once chatting with a friend about Japanese media. He mentioned that in a lot of Japanese narratives, a nuclear disaster occurs and the rest of the story deals with the aftermath. That rarely happens in American narratives, he noted, which focus on anxiety about impending disaster. That is, what we in the US fear the most, has already happened in Japan.  Later, I heard a podcast discuss The Handmaid’s Tale. In it, one host observed that Atwood’s gruesome fictional future is actually the reality of the past, for black slave women.

If middle-class America is the normalized cultural standard, all other ways of being, all other histories, all other cultures, are by contrast absurd and extraordinary, tinged with terror and allure. Simply existing as a person of color in a white world means to simultaneously live out mainstream consciousness’s darkest nightmares and most coveted fantasies. This is the baseline with which to enter the world of Cloud Tectonics, written by Jose Rivera, directed by Jaime Carrillo, and produced by Fort Point Theatre Channel. Set in post-apocalyptic LA, Cloud Tectonics is a touching meditation on the fathomless beauty of love, as well as a dream allegory reconciling the disconnect between the immigrant’s experience of past and now.

Every aspect of this production was marvelous. The play itself was effortlessly evocative, melding harsh realities with ethereal wonder, devastation with magic, “sad dreams with wild ones”. It read like Shakespeare, combining the poetic and the vulgar, and somehow elevating both. “What is life, but a fucking blink?” The musical underscoring of the entire play was ingenious, and enhanced the aura of time and space yielding permanently to the weight of love. Jaime Carrillo (Anibal), Jadira Figueroa (Celestina), and Fernando Barbosa (Nelson) all portrayed their characters to perfection: Figueroa with a mesmerizing and ethereal air; Barbosa with a tender and youthful excitability; Carillo as an antihero burdened and bemused, as if he is perpetually stuck in a storm, a personal raincloud overhead. But every cloud has a silver lining…

I attended two of the four shows in this production’s run. The first show in Hyde Square Task Force was minimal and very intimate. Old women and children laughed and chatted together. The management team treated everyone like old friends, and there was free ice cream. It was clear that this show was put on for the community, which is something special that deserves separate accolades. The last show was performed on the exquisite Gloucester Stage that was decked out as a fully functional house. The team seamlessly adapted their show to the new, larger space and both performances were fantastic. That said, I preferred the HSTF version. I thought there was more chemistry and immediacy in the close-knit setting of a basement with only a whiteboard. The players’ comfort with each other and their material was palpable; some scenes were electric.

Ultimately, the story is a love note to one’s cultural identity, Puerto Rican culture specifically, but it resonates with anyone who has migrated and/or felt displaced. Anibal reveals the feeling of being “a stranger in my own body, a stranger to my past,” an awareness any minority would find intensely familiar. To find love with a timeless and familiar stranger is Anibal’s symbolic revival of what novelist Amitav Ghosh calls an “Epic Love” for one’s cultural home, a love that is erotic, visceral, quixotic, eternal. It reminds me that I am not, and never was, alone in my otherness, that love collapses all other hardships into itself, turning time into a flat circle, and that the love of a lifetime is being able to go home again.

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