Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

Cal Rep’s ‘In The Blood’ reinterprets the classic ‘The Scarlet Letter’

The tragic story of a single mom facing constant judgment while raising five children in poverty will take the stage at Players Theater Feb. 14 to March 1. 

California Repertory Company presents its first spring production: Suzan-Lori Parks’ “In the Blood,” a modern-day interpretation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.”  

Set in 19th century New York, the play explores themes of homelessness, discrimination and women’s issues. The story follows the life of a black single mother, Hester La Negrita, and her five bastard children. 

“In the Blood” is directed by Desean Terry, who also plays a recurring character in “The Morning Show” with actress Jennifer Aniston.

“Suzan-Lori Parks is such a rich writer and so it’s awesome to be able to get this type of play and this type of work done at our university so that students can explore it,” Terry said. “Some of the issues she’s talking about are really at the forefront of […] the conversations right now.”  

The play, according to theater major Tara Webster, is an incredibly dense story expressing real situations people face in the real world. Webster plays the roles of Bully, and theWelfare Lady  

“For a contemporary play to embrace this level of a tragic structure I think is a bit different,” Terry said. “[Parks] puts this sort of beautiful bag of ingredients and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find [that] in a lot of plays.”

The cast is composed of a limited number of actors due to the specific casting format utilized by Parks. Each character, with the exception of the main character, is double cast. According to senior theater major Aaron Allen who plays the roles of Baby and the Reverend, the play was intentionally written to have actors play two roles to help the audience see each character’s counterparts as reflections of one another.

“The play definitely shows several tactics that people use to dehumanize another person,” Allen said, “to infantilize, reduce them to less than they are as means of getting control over them.” 

Sophomore theater major Sarah Michele Guei plays the main character, Hester La Negrita. Guei spoke with conviction as she discussed the play’s themes and story, looking away as if watching the play unfold in her head.

“You really have to come in with a clear mind,” Guei said. “You’re really going to immerse in this world of how it is to be homeless, how it is to be a black woman in society, how it is to live in poverty, and a lot of things that people don’t really think about in their everyday life, and what it means to make ends meet.” 

“In the Blood” will be playing at the Player’s Theater Feb. 14 to March 3. Tickets are $23 for general admission and $18 for students. They can be purchased online or at the box office in the Theater Arts Building.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Daily 49er newsletter