What lengths would you go to forget about the greatest pain of your life? Losing a child, a parent, a spouse? What would you do to forget? At what cost? These are questions I’ve been wrestling with since I saw a staged reading of Georgina Escobar’s new play Then They Forgot About The Rest at Sin Muros: A Latinx Theatre Festival at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, Texas. As the festival’s producer, I had read the play before and sat in on rehearsals throughout the week. As a Latinx theatre advocate, I’ve been knowledgable about Escobar’s work for years. But, I still wasn’t prepared for what I witnessed on stage. As with her entire body of work, Then They Forgot About The Rest is timely, funny, poignant, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Then They Forgot About The Rest will receive its world premiere Off-Broadway at INTAR and Radio Drama Network from April 13 to May 12. Opening night is April 22 for the limited engagement. David Mendizábal directs. The cast is comprised of Danielle Alonzo, Maki Borden, Mindy Escobar-Leanse, Renata Friedman, Jacqueline Guillén, Gabriel Marin, and Elizabeth Ramos.
Escobar dedicates the play to “the ones that are in the constant act of eternal forgetting” and “to the rest, may we choose what to keep, and what to forget.” These dedications form the crux of the play, planting the seeds for what will surely be a conversation starter for anyone who sees the play. Billed as a “femmetasia,” Then They Forgot About The Rest is a frontier futura funk piece complete with elements of noir. Set somewhere in New Mexico in the not-too-distant future, the play focuses on The Rest, an ad agency that is struggling to remain competitive in a new media market. Their new client, Alleviate (or “the forgetting pill”), forces members of The Rest to question the moral implications of selling this controversial drug that allows patients to forget certain memories. Meanwhile, a grieving mother begins testing the drug. Naturally, there is a catch to taking Alleviate, but to reveal this here would spoil the play. Throughout, the play seeks to make sense of what doesn’t make sense about Alzheimer’s.
Then They Forgot About The Rest asks what is worth forgetting. In a previous interview that I conducted with Escobar, the playwright notes
My grandmother has Alzheimer’s. And, at its bare bones, Then They Forgot About The Rest has been one of many a process of trying to understand, once more, what effect pharma has, or has had, on our parents and grandparents’ generation. Significantly, what things could it plausibly lead to? Early-Early onset? It reimagines these things in a not too distant future.
Moreover, Mendizábal lingers on the play’s central question, connecting Escobar’s frontier futura funk environment with the world we are living in today. Mendizábal notes:
In a post-apocalyptic world where so much devastation has occurred that leads the characters to want to forget, I can’t help but think about the state of the absurd times we are living in today and question, have we already forgotten too much and will that lead us to the end? While this is a play about forgetting, for me it is a play about remembering, remembering our own humanity and the humanity of others, remembering our place in the natural order of things and what part, big and small, we play in the bettering of the world.
Plays such as Then They Forgot About The Rest make us think—about what we’ve lost, about what we’ve gained, about what we remember. While we may go to great lengths to forget the pain we’ve experienced, ultimately this very pain forms who we are and who we will become in the future. While there are many ways to engage in this conversation, Escobar’s play is certainly a great place to start.
Performances of Then They Forgot About The Rest are scheduled for April 13 through May 22 at INTAR, 500 W. 52nd St; 4th floor, New York, NY 10019. For information, visit www.intartheatre.org.
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This post was written by Trevor Boffone.
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