By Raquel J. Pantojas
In the fifth edition of the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez’s Coloquio: ¿Del otro lao’? and under the direction of Nivializ Toro from TeatRUM, the play “Lauren’s Call” was held last night in the Ramón Figueroa Chapel amphitheater. Due to the strong promotion that it was given, the amphitheater and its approximately 200 seats were filled. There was an anticipation for Paloma Pedrero’s “Lauren Call”, a play that portrays and questions sexual identity, taboos, and the traditional gender roles.
Roberta Orlandini, professor of Italian and Comparative Literature from the Humanities Department, gave a brief summary at the beginning of the event. “Lauren’s Call” was written in the pro-Franco period of 1984 by Pedrero “with the desire of bringing a change that naturally met obstacles” like Professor Orlandini said in her introduction.
In an interview with Nivializ Toro, play’s director, TeatRUM’s current director, and Comparative Literature student, said “I was inspired by the challenges, questions and complaints that the piece presents” to bring the play to the UPRM campus. Toro said that even though the play has only one scene, it “manages to bring so many ideas and issues to think about, which ultimately, the university’s audience deserved and had to see.”
To resume the play, Toro explains “According to one of the many interpretations that I can share, I think that Pedro is constantly facing himself. As Pedro clearly exposed, he is tired of following the norm, of following the rules, and he wants, longs, to leave the imposed routine. But he doesn’t want to do it alone, so he tries to share it with his wife, having a result that perhaps he expected, but hoped it wouldn’t happen because ‘they say that when you love, you understand everything.’” Pedro’s masculinity is scarcely seen throughout the scene, which is one of the reasons why the play is called “Lauren’s Call” (from Lauren Bacall, used-to-be feminine partner of Humphrey Bogart). On the other hand, Rosa is the one who cites Bogart and seduces Peter with his “masculinity”.
The gender roles are questioned in the play. About this topic, Toro said that gender roles “are absurd… for Peter and Rosa’s situation, and for the life of the people on the planet throughout human existence as well. We are humans, people with multiple needs that for nothing shouldn’t be subjects to something that some group of crazy people decided as norm in a time of madness and universal selfishness.”
Whether the play was made to break some still existing taboos in our society or not, a suggestion that was emphasized through the play’s theme, like Toro said, is that “We must talk about these issues, we must talk about why at the moment of experimenting there are problems [….] that arose simply because the experimentation involved behaviors outside the norm or ‘queer’, but really: what’s the problem?”