While growing up in Mexico City, Mariana Montes loved the arts. As a child, she would make up stories in her head, and as she matured, she realized that acting out these stories was where her passion truly was. For her, acting is giving voice to one’s thoughts, and what a voice she gives.
After rising to the top as one of Mexico’s best actresses, Montes began to be recognized internationally for her talents. While working on the musical Too Many Tamales with the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, Montes showed off her comedic capabilities while acting, singing, and dancing. More recently, she played a very different role in the Spanish classic The House of Bernarda Alba, created by Federico Garcia Lorca.
“The House of Bernarda Alba is one of the most important plays ever written in Spanish language. It’s a very powerful play that has very deep characters. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with such rich material,” said Montes. “I defend freedom, women’s rights, love, I am against racism, I support people who love each other doesn’t matter what sex they are. I am a pacifist. Lorca was murdered during the civil war in Spain because of his political believes and his sexual orientation. This play is great to make a point about our broken society. This was written in 1936, and as incredible as it seems this play is still as recent as ever.”
The play tells the story of Bernarda Alba and her five daughters. Immediately following the death of her husband, Bernarda announces that they will observe an eight-year mourning period in which they will not leave the house. The play takes place in the house of Bernarda Alba in a small Andalusian village during a sweltering hot spell in the summer of 1936. Montes has a principal role in the play, playing Martirio, the second of the five daughters.
“Martirio is a very dark role. She is the most emotionally traumatized of the characters. She has a lot of resentment toward her mother. Her freedom is completely oppressed. Her mother ruined her future marriage because she thought the man who wanted to marry her wasn’t good for the family reputation because his social class was lower than theirs. We are talking about a very traditional society and a lot of rules were to be obey,” described Montes. “Martirio is a lead role who brings all the conflict to the story when she tells her mother about the affair her youngest sister Adela is having with Pepe el Romano who is Angustia’s fiancé, the oldest of the five sisters.”
An important aspect to the character of Martirio is the hump she has, which contributes to her many insecurities. Finding the correct posture was the first step Montes took to truly become her character. The director, Denise Blasor, didn’t want a fake hump to be used, so Montes had to readjust her body to give the impression that she had one.
Blasor has worked in the industry for over 35 years. She is the Associate Artistic Director of The Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, and describes Montes as a wonderful asset to the theatre community.
“One of the first things that I noticed about Mariana was that her talent comes naturally. She is an artist of many dimensions and manages to capture the hearts of all whom she works with. Her commitment to creatively explore her role with sensitivity, intellect and humor and the multitude of skills that she possesses while still maintaining humility and an open mind is a testament to her character and personable demeanor. Mariana is smart, talented, dedicated, professional and a pleasure to work with. She always brings new ideas to the table and inspires her peers with her fast creativity, wit and generous acting style,” said Blasor.
These thoughts were echoed by her fellow cast members, who describes Montes as a pleasure to work with. Elisa Noemi, who plays another sister in the show, says that you can always trust Montes on stage. For Montes, working with everyone was one of the best parts of the experience.
“I had an amazing experience with this production. I love the professionalism of the company. From the cast to the crew, everyone was on top of their game. I love the vision our director had. I got to meet new artists and now I have great relationships with them,” she said.
The production was performed last year at The Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Hollywood, with a second run at Ruth B. Shannon Center. Due to their success, the cast filmed a short film of the play, which was nominated for Best Theatrical Short at the 2015 Imagen Awards. The Imagen Awards honors and recognizes the positive portrayals of Latinos and Latino cultures in film, television and new media and celebrates the achievement of Latino talent in the entertainment industry.
This play will also be performed later this summer with the same cast at the Shannon Center of the Performing Arts in Whittier, California.