Saturday, October 26, 2013

Petra's Pecado by Rupert Reyes Is Published, October, 2013

Published October 24, 2013 in the Cultura in Austin section:

Austin Statesman

It’s been nearly 20 years since the hit comedy play “Petra’s Pecado” first captured the hearts and minds of Austinites. Since then, playwright and Teatro Vivo co-founder Rupert Reyes’ timeless story has taken on a life of its own with productions in several U.S. cities, two sequels and now its own book.

Often described as the Chicano “Greater Tuna,” the play tells the story of a Latina grandmother'and tortilla factory owner who catches a glimpse of an X-rated program while channel surfing and runs to her priest to confess. Her penance? To direct the church’s annual play.

Reyes shared decades worth of “Petra” memories as we flipped through a thick binder full of archival photographs, posters and newspaper clippings that document the bilingual play’s success. From Minneapolis performances to Reyes’ daughter joining the cast, each page tells a story. When Reyes first played the part of Petra’s husband, he had to make himself look plder; nowadays, not so much, he jokes. It’s clear that after about 20 years, Petra belongs to everyone.

Rupert Reyes (photo: Teatro Vivo)
Rupert Reyes (photo: Teatro Vivo)
Reyes has always been a storyteller, but he felt as if he was chosen to tell this particular story. Writing the play, he says, felt more like observing a family having a conversation. He imagined jotting down everything he could in the background.

“Petra’s Pecado” has been bridging cultural gaps one audience at a time, and the recent book ensures that a new generation will be influenced by the heartwarming tale. Part of the proceeds from book sales help fund an effort to send books to every high school in Austin.

“There are many plays in history that have been lost,” Reyes says. “‘Petra’s Pecado’ won’t become of them.”

Listen to excerpts from the play during a reception and book-signing from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.

And for fans who can’t get enough of Petra, Reyes plans to premiere another sequel soon called “Petra’s Pastorela.”

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