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April 21, 2018
Award-winning Cuban-born poet, playwright, Susannah Rodriguez Drissi, premieres HOUSES WITHOUT WALLS
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Susannah Rodriguez Drissi
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Hollywood, CA, April 21, 2018, Manigua Productions is proud to present Houses Without Walls, written and directed by Susannah Rodriguez Drissi. Houses Without Walls portrays two generations of women coping with motherhood and madness in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Candela and Gloria’s stories are almost impossible to tell apart. Each day, without reprieve, they speak to themselves and to each other across a wall. One day, however, the wall no longer holds, and Candela and Gloria come face to face. Premiers at the Hollywood Fringe Festival on June 3rd at Stephanie Feury Theatre Studio, 5636 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038.

Torn between historical and personal traumas, love, fear, and resentment for their daughters, Candela and Gloria simply can’t forget—if anything, they remember too much. Likewise, their daughters—now women living in exile—grapple with lives turned upside-down by history and personal choices. Their mothers will die without them. Their own daughters, too, will leave them one day. Ultimately, Houses Without Walls reminds us that motherhood, like a revolution, is a life-altering event—often wrought with obligation, madness, and pain.

Houses Without Walls was inspired by events Rodriguez Drissi experienced while living in Cuba during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift when Fidel Castro opened the sea border, unleashing a major refugee crisis. "The mothers and daughters of Houses Without Walls,” Rodriguez Drissi explains, “could be any mother and daughter who has experienced separation, political violence, and the madness that ensues. This play is about walls—the ones we imagine, the ones we build and, ultimately, the ones we must tear down.”

“In Houses Without Walls the boundaries between characters that are united and divided by guilt and loss are permeable, resulting in a surreal slippage that is at once connective and isolating. These paradoxical operations in the piece create a rhythmic heaving — the painful contractions of memory. This permeability — the intermingling of the lives of the characters, the shared sounds and smells of their existence, and their overlapping and sometimes identity-bending exchanges — calls to mind the movement of water, of waves overtaking waves. Water in all its potential and horror. Water as both a passage to a new life, as well as the possibility of death. 

‘When we leave, we take nothing with us.’ 

Yet it is exactly this “nothing” left behind that is the central presence in Houses Without Walls — the oppressive presence of absence. The immensity of a loss and unknowing that sits thick in the air, drowning the inhabitants in the molasses of memories of the past and anxieties of the future. A MUST see.“ Juli Crockett, American Playwright & Director

“Susannah Rodriguez Drissi has found a uniquely theatrical way to convey the inter-generational pathos and humor of displacement, exile and re-connection — this is a deeply lyrical, earthy and compelling piece of theatre.” Guy Zimmerman, Award-winning Writer, Director & Producer, Padua Playwrights

“Houses Without Walls poignantly shows us the emotional and psychological challenges that Cuban mothers and daughters face during the diasporic conditions following the 1980 Mariel Boatlift. As poetic as it is abstract, this is the language of theatre.” Beatriz Ortega, Producer, Jeronimo Stage. Los Angeles / Madrid | Associate Producer, The Los Angeles Theatre Center

“Houses without Walls is an eerie and poignant meditation on the violence of separation, of motherhood, and of what it means to be left behind.  The musings, ravings and fragile interactions of two mothers left in Cuba by their migrant daughters haunt the empty spaces of their troubled lives, revealing new scenes of hurt in the years of the Mariel exodus from Cuba to the U.S.”  Esther Whitfield, Ph.D., Brown University, Author of Cuban Currency: The Dollar and “Special Period” Fiction (2008)

“Susannah Rodriguez Drissi’s Houses Without Walls transmits the complicated emotions that can be attributed to slow political and economic violence and its effects on a people. The taste, feel, sounds, and smell of what the experience of distance must feel like to mothers and daughters pervade this one-act play. Despite characters’ constant assertion of their difference from one another—a seemingly natural response to a troubled collective environment of 1980s Cuba, Houses Without Walls insists upon proximity, disintegrating the walls and forcing us to empathize with all who have endured such a difficult fate.” Jacqueline Loss, Ph.D., Tulane University, Author of Dreaming in Russian: The Cuban Soviet Imaginary (2013)

“Susannah Rodriguez Drissi’s Houses Without Walls importantly dramatizes the challenges and rewards of being both a mother and daughter in diasporic worlds. The play’s narration and dialog are beautifully abstract. In writing this way, Rodriguez Drissi makes it clear that the relationships amidst 1980s Cuba and its Diaspora are both captivating and raw.” Kris Juncker, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
“Houses Without Walls is an extraordinary work exploring the topical issues of emigration, physical and virtual borders and the difficulty of communication between two generations of women. Rodriguez Drissi uses a language that is both poetic and brutal, the lyrical tones being cut through by sharp notes of realism. The main characters, mothers, and daughters inhabit a space that ensures an emotional and sensorial permeability between geographical zones, between life and death, overseen by a narrator whose role is not to provide spectators with more information but to overemphasize the impossibility of the women’s situation. This is a play that clearly captures the pain of physical separation and distance at a time when the plea of refugees and the politically justified need to build walls test our humanity daily.” Carmen Levick, Ph.D., Department of Theatre University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

WHERE Stephanie Feury Theatre Studio, 5636 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Sunday, June 3 – 2:30 PM – Preview
Saturday, June 9 – 6:00 PM
Saturday, June 16 – 1:00 PM
Wednesday, June 20 – 8:30 PM
Sunday, June 24 – 1:00 PM
Running time:
Approximately 35 minutes, followed by Q&A (1 hr. total)

Appropriate for ages 14+

Assistant Producer, Magdalena Emar, Starring, Yelyna De Leon, Magdalena Emar, and Maria Ignacia Hojas.

Susannah Rodríguez Drissi is an award-winning Cuban-born poet, writer, translator, playwright, producer, and scholar. She has an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from California State University, Long Beach, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA where she teaches in Writing Programs. She is an associate and literary editor at Cuba Counterpoints, a new journal dedicated to dynamic analysis and commentary on Cuban affairs and has been a UC-Cuba Affiliate Scholar since 2009. Her poems, short stories, creative non-fiction, and reviews have appeared in anthologies such as In Season—Stories of Discovery, Loss, Home, and Places in Between; and journals such as Saw Palm, Literal Magazine, Diario de Cuba (Madrid), SX Salon, Raising Mothers, Acentos Review and Cuba Counterpoints, among others. Her first novel, Until We’re Fish, is under review at a literary press. Currently, she writes Letters from Camus, her second novel. Nocturno, a jukebox musical that pays tribute to music from the Spanish-speaking world in the 1960s and 70s is currently in the development process. An excerpt from House Without Walls was published in December by La Casita Grande Press, an imprint of Black Rose Writing specializing in Latino/Caribbean literature. More recently, and as a member of NALIP, she works on two original scripts for cable and network television. This spring, she joined Padua Playwrights in “Shepard and the Avante-Garde,” a groundbreaking and adventurous new interdisciplinary theatre workshop bringing together directors, playwrights, and actors. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at www.susannahrodrí or find her on Twitter at @rsdrissi.

Comps available for members of the press upon request.
Twitter: @rsdrissi – @magdalena_emar – @nachahojas – @yelynadeleon
Facebook Page: Houses Without Walls, A Short Play