Theater Review: ‘The Panza Monologues’ by Teatro Audaz

 

Teatro Audaz’s final show of the 2020-21 season is The Panza Monologues, written by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga, with additional stories by Barbara Renaud-Gonzalez, Petra A. Mata, and Maria R. Salazar.

Grise and Mayorga conceived of this piece while working together at San Antonio’s Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. They had both noticed that the work of activist women was rooted in a deep understanding of their body politic. They began documenting the life experiences of Chicanas of all ages, all over the U.S. This became a solo performance piece, which evolved into The Panza Monologues, a riff on Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

The play celebrates the panza — the belly roll of flesh that women have been conditioned for years to hide. The monologues are at equal turns funny, dramatic and moving. Each one carries a message —  whether it’s obesity, diabetes, desserts or income inequality — issues all still prevalent in San Antonio today, as Teatro Audaz points out. In one hilarious segment, a woman tries deperately to fit her panza into tight-fitting jeans, finally turning to a pair of pliers to finish the job.

Here, the monologues have been split among four skilled actors — Brizzo Torres, Jojanie Moreno, Isabel DeLaCerda and Laura T. Garza. They keep the stage lively and bustling with activity. The colorful set design is by Karen Arredondo, and the show is directed with verve by Paula Rodriguez.

The Panza Monologues plays one final weekend at the Cellar Theater at the Public, 800 W. Ashby Place. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. In-person tickets are limited for social distancing, but a live stream will be offered simultaneously. Ticket sales are online only and can be purchased here.

Power to the panza!

Photo (l-r): Brizzo Torres, Isabel De La Cerda, Laura T Garza and JoJanie Moreno (Siggi Ragnar).

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