Pinochet

Death and the Maiden: still true

Preview: Ariel Dorfman's relentless 1990 play about the aftermath of torture and political repression gets another look from Bag&Baggage

By MICHAEL SPROLES

It’s been nearly 30 years since the Argentinian-Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman wrote his groundbreaking political masterpiece, Death and the Maiden. But there are always lessons to be learned from history, and many of the themes and warnings in the work continue to ring true today.

The 1990 play focuses on the story of Paulina Salas, a former political prisoner in an unnamed country emerging from a totalitarian dictatorship. When she comes face to face with the man she believes was her captor, accusations of complicity, collusion, and guilt complicate one basic question – is she telling the truth?

And after a long wait, it’s opening Friday night in Hillsboro, with a pay-what-you-will preview on Thursday. Bag&Baggage’s founding artistic director, Scott Palmer, and associate artistic director, Cassie Greer, spoke for five years about putting on the production in Hillsboro. With a strong historical basis, a determined female protagonist, and a relevant political message, the play seems to fit the mold of what their professional resident theater company puts forth often – provocative and intense performances that challenge audiences. This also marks Greer’s first time solo directing a B&B production.

Mandana Khoshnevisan as Paulina and Nathan Dunkin as Gerardo. Casey Campbell Photography

“This is a story that is incredibly timely; it deals with social justice,” she said. “However, at the same time, there are no easy answers. We’re having the story told in a way that blurs all of the lines.”

Continues…