Controversy is nothing new to Eliana López. For this reason, she continues to promote The Vagina Monologues, despite the controversy that Maria Conchita Alonso—who was originally cast as the lead actress—generated as she publicly announced her support of an anti-immigrant California politician.
In her first foray as a theater producer in San Francisco, López had to face a storm of criticism against Alonso. The pushback was sparked by a video where the Cuban-Venezuelan star backs Tim Donnelly, a Republican, anti-immigrant gubernatorial candidate for California.
The Venezuelan producer—who will be both producing as well as acting in the play— ordered new promotional flyers featuring a photo of
Alba Roversi, the Telemundo telenovela actress who will be replacing Alonso.
María Conchita’s exit
Lopez explained that she initially chose Maria Conchita Alonso because she had already acted in the Spanish version of the play in other U.S. cities, including Miami and New York.
When she found out about Alonso’s support of Donnelly, she immediately reached out to Manuel Mendoza, the director of the play, to consult with him about the matter.
“It was a surprise to everyone,” she said, in reference to the video in which Alonso stands beside Donnelly, who founded a local California Minutemen chapter and fought against the California Dream Act, which benefits undocumented youth.
“The show we are producing—we are (doing) it by the community, for the community,” said López. “ This anti-immigrant message was contradictory to a community that organizes and fights for immigrant rights.”
“I immediately saw the conflict, called the manager and said: ‘Look, this is the situation. Not only is the community of San Francisco upset, the whole country is angry and expressing disappointment with Maria Conchita’s political stance,’” López said.
After the video with Alonso and Donnelly caused a national stir, Alonso, the singer of the song ‘A night of drinking, a crazy night ‘ announced that Marcos Gutierrez withdrew from the play-on the radio program “Made in California—” because he did not want to see people protesting outside of the theater.
Prior to her announcement, some Bay Area-based Latino immigrants expressed their intention to boycott the work on social networks such as Facebook.
López feels good with the fact that Alonso, born in Cuba and raised in Venezuela, has resigned from the show on her own accord.
“She realized that it’s not my fault, the director is not to blame—it’s not the other actress’ fault, nor are our sponsors to blame if a boycott is assembled,” said López.
Always a Conservative
Alonso’s support of Donnelly is not the first display of the actress’s backing of a conservative candidate. In 2008, she supported Republican Sen. John McCain when he was running for U.S. presidency. She also frequently criticized the former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, and late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.
Local broadcaster Marcos Alonso Gutiérrez rebuked Alonso for supporting Donnelly on air during his show. “I told her: what are you doing, supporting this man who is against our children, [who] didn’t choose to come here.”
Gutiérrez expressed that María Conchita Alonso “was one of the beneficiaries of Operation “Peter Pan” (a mission through which the CIA took 14,000 children out of Cuba without their parents, after the 1959 revolution).
The Vagina Monologues is a theatrical play that was written by Eve Ensler and first premiered in 1996 in the United States. Shortly after, “V-Day” a global, non-profit movement that raised millions of dollars to combat violence against women was born. The Vagina Monologues will be showcased at Brava Theater from the Feb. 14 through 16. For more information visit: www.brava.org
—Translation Gabriela Sierra Alonso