If you've read Rejected Princesses, you may remember the Mirabal sisters. They were part of what we could call #theResistance in the Dominican Republic when El Jefe, Rafael Trujillo, terrorized a nation. These ladies played a huge part in bringing down the dictator. The play based on the Julia Alvarez book about them, In the Time of the Butterflies, opens Apr. 12 at Stageworks. In the days leading up to the opening, we're asking the cast to answer our Seven Questions with... interview. First up? Marlene Peralta, who plays Minerva.
In the Time of the Butterflies deals with some significant horrors towards women in the Dominican Republic's history. How did you prepare for that part of the role?
I grew up knowing about the assassination of the Mirabal sisters because I am Dominican. It was a lot more gruesome than whats reflected in the book, movies, and this play. However, given our current social climate, I believe the #MeToo movement also prepared me for the atrocities witnessed in this play.
What's been the biggest challenge of working on a show that's being presented in two languages?
The biggest challenge has been in English. Sometimes, we have to catch ourselves because we'll respond in Spanish and keep going until we realize "Oh, its supposed to be in English." Whoops.
Your character, Minerva, has two children. Without giving away any spoilers for the play, do you think you would be able to make the choices she did if you knew it put your children at risk. More to the point: at what price, freedom?
I believe I would. Minerva was extremely fair and from an early age saw the bigger picture. I understand we all have to take care of our own, but I don't mind paying extra taxes, for example, so someone can go receive a medical screening, or we can have public transportation. Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Patria understood the battles we fight today help other people in the future.
What do you enjoy most about this cast?
I've worked with many in this cast. Everyone is extremely supportive, positive, caring, and fun. Oh, we also love food and love to share our love for food with one another.
What's been the biggest surprise about working on this production?
The biggest surprise has been to see how similar the actors are to the characters they play. Granted, Cornelio Aguilera plays Trujillo "El Jefe" and Cornelio is the most humble, hardworking, respectful person...nothing like Trujillo.
What's the largest difference between being an actress in Brooklyn and being an actress in Tampa Bay?
I didn't actually know I wanted to act until I moved to Tampa, so that's pretty funny.
Just for fun: If you could only eat at three local restaurants for the rest of your life, which three would you pick?
La Segunda Central, SoHo Sushi, Loli's. This was extremely difficult.