By: Andrew Siañez-De La O
Directed by: Melinda Lopez
The Huntington Theatre (Boston, MA) - 2022
by: Andrew Siañez-De La-O
Originally presented as part of The Breaking Ground Festival at the Huntington Theatre, Rough Magic was the culmination of a year’s long Playwriting Fellowship that took place during the length of the Covid-19 pandemic. The reading was held on July 23, 2022 and was directed by Miranda Lopez.
Rough Magic reimagines The Tempest, here during a hurricane in Houston in which Miranda must survive the storm with the help of others—a ghost, her abuela, and her friends. The play expands on the original’s themes of nature, family, and magic while setting the play in a tropical themed dance at the height of a hurricane. Recentering the narrative on its young characters and brujería (Latin American folk magic), Rough Magic explores how family bonds are tested when grief becomes inescapable.
The storm was brought to life by choreographed body percussion. Large claps became lightning strikes. Stomping became thunder. Snapping became the pitter-patter of rain. Scenes were heightened by the ever-present storm which at times grew so large that it could be felt through the audience’s risers. This kept the audience entirely engaged, gasping when magic candles were being blown out by unsuspecting characters.
During the lengthy talkback that followed, audience members engaged with and shared their own stories of family magical practices. One of the core goals of all my plays is sharing culturally significant practices as the ordinary and every day, never as “the other” or an alternative. This allows audiences to engage with the new or find comfort in the familiar.
For more on The Breaking Ground Festival, see www.HuntingtonTheatre.org.