During the season planning process, we carefully consider which shows will play best side by side so that you, our guests, will have the most meaningful and thought-provoking journey as you join the Carrots at each step along a season. The Tropic of X was originally scheduled to play third in our season lineup, but was moved to play second after we moved out of Load of Fun this last fall. In life, sometimes the best things are results of happy accidents and even though Tropic of X was intended for another slot in our season, its current place has offered a new connection to the season. As we began rehearsals, I found some unexpected connections to our previous show Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? by Caryl Churchill, a play that explores American imperialism and its inevitable backlash.
Our upcoming play, Caridad Svich’s The Tropic of X, is set in a not too distant future in the Polyglot-Americas where North, South, and Latin America have become something of the same place. It’s a world of swiftly changing regimes, rodeo arcades, cheap sex-tourism, and constant change. It’s a true melting pot where our characters are constantly looking for their next thrill, their next fix. And what I found upon first read was Svich’s wildly fascinating imagination and keen knack for the poetic. But more than simple experimentation with imagery and language, Svich brilliantly presents the current real world scenarios that could lead to the creation of a real world Tropic of X.
Take, for example, Hugo Chavez who came to power as the President of Venezuela in 1999 and has almost singlehandedly ushered a revolution across Latin and South Americas. His primary influence is Simón Bolivar, an 18th Century Venezuelan revolutionary who fought across the continent to wrestle back independence from Spain. Chavez, who frequently refers to his efforts as a continuation of the Bolivarian Revolution, finds philosophical allies in the presidents of his neighboring countries Argentina, Bolivia, Columbia, Guatemala, and Paraguay. All share the common goal of gaining independence from foreign involvement.
The countries involved in the New Bolivarian Revolution, those I listed above, have made great strides in gaining true independence from foreign meddling. In the coming years Latin and South American countries will continue to gain strength and a greater ability to throw political weight against the USA in the global arena. There are even hopes of forming some sort of Unites States of South and Latin America (USSLA).
Imagine what would happen if this was realized and the USSLA had equal footing with the USA. Would the USA view this as a threat? Would we allow the United States to be on equal footing with our southern neighbors? Or might we try to destabilize the progress to secure our interests?
Svich paints poetic realities on the backdrop of these hypothetical scenarios, creating the world in which the characters live. Perhaps true love is the only thing that can save them.
To me, this is the message of the play, and it offers a profound sense of hope.
Nathan A. Cooper.