EVELINA FERNANDEZ: A MEXICAN TRILOGY
Evelina Fernández was born and raised in East LA. She is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and actor. As a screenwriter and playwright, Evelina writes about the U.S. Latinx experience. She has received numerous awards and nominations for her writing including the GLAAD
Media Award and several L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award nominations and is a proud union member of the Writers Guild of America, SAG/AFTRA and Actors Equity Association. Evelina is a founding and board of trustees member of the Latino Theater Company at theos Angeles Theatre Center where she continues to write nd produce the stories that have not been told about the Chicano/Mexicano community.
In the late 2000s Evelina Fernandez began to write a play about an inter-generational Mexican-American family in Los Angeles. The story, which is told in our play Charity, recounts the challenges of a family dealing with the death of their son in Iraq, just as the beloved Pope John Paul II is dying. Fernandez realized that there was much more to the story of the Morales family, which was loosely inspired by her own family. She expanded the play to become A Mexican Trilogy (the three plays: Faith, Hope, and Charity). In 2016 Fernandez staged the full three-part series at the Latino Theater Company, which she runs with her husband, director José Luis Valenzuela at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
In each of the three plays, the story has ties to a prominent person of the time. In Part I: Faith, we hear the voice of Franklin Roosevelt as he addresses the crises facing the nation. John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro “speak” to Betty in Part II: Hope as they navigate the Cuban Missile Crisis. And, in Part II: Charity, it is the death of Pope John Paul II that plays a role.
Meet the Morales family and get a bit of the background for the story you will see tonight.
FAITH – Part I (1915, 1940-44)
The story starts in Mexico in 1915 when a 15-year-old Esperanza meets Silvestre Morales, a young priest. They fall in love and run away to get married. The play jumps forward to 1940 when the world is torn by war. Esperanza and Silvestre have moved to northern Arizona and Silvestre works in the mines. They are the proud parents of Faith, Charity and Elena. It is important to note that a distinguishing characteristic of the Morales women is that they cannot lie. Some might see this as a virtue, but the women often find it a curse.
Silvestre tries to honor his commitment to the family, but is slowly being drawn back to the church. In anger, Esperanza tells him to leave if he doesn’t love her more than he loves God. He has been trying to organize the miners into a union but is run out of town by union-busters. The last we hear of him he has escaped across the border to Mexico.
Charity grows up and marries Freddie who was killed in WWII, but not before he leaves her with a child. Faith runs away from home to become a club singer in LA. Elena stays in Arizona to marry Charlie. Esperanza and Charity move to LA to be with Faith.
HOPE – Part II (1960-63)
This part of the trilogy picks up the story with Elena and portrays the family life she has with Charlie (now Carlos). They have four children – Gina, Betty, Johnny, and Bobby. Carlos flagrantly cheats on Elena and abuses her when she complains. His short temper is also often visited on his children.
Elena and the kids make the best of things as they struggle to pay the bills and buy food. While outwardly mean to her siblings, Gina is the ringleader in various schemes to get food for them all. Except for not having any money, Elena and the children are better off when their father is gone with one of his girlfriends. Gina is dating Rudy and agrees to be his girlfriend just for the two weeks before he leaves for basic training. She is fed up with her parents. She caught her mom kissing their family friend she and hates her father for running around, leaving his family to fend for themselves. Now she finds herself pregnant and angry at herself . . . and Rudy.
Rudy is coming home on leave and wants to marry Gina. Distraught, she tries to kill herself with sleeping pills, but it doesn’t work and she’s still pregnant. There’s a final argument between the family and Carlos; and Elena is finally able to tell him to leave and never come back. Betty has had an imaginary (but real to her) relationship with President Kennedy for a long time. At the play’s close he is assassinated, and Betty and the family mourn him with the rest of the country.
CHARITY – Part III (2005)
Originally, the family moved to Los Angeles to live with Esperanza and await the birth of Gina’s first born. Now, 42 years later, Rudy and Gina still live in the same house and care for Esperanza who is now 106 years old. They had two children – Emiliano and Valentina. Bobby, Betty and Johnny all live nearby. Curtain up!!