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Two weeks ago I was privileged enough to witness the opening night of what would be a week-long journey for 6 talented Latina artists – a few with strong Bronx ties – to a sold-out crowd on most nights.

Soledad Speaks‘ is self-described as “spoken word theater at its best,” but after coming to terms with what was presented, I find that too limiting.

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The work is the brainchild of award-winning writer Linda Nieves-Powell who masterfully wove the words and talents of four poets and the choreography of one dancer, who’s works speak to your very essence, into a multidimensional and multifaceted introspective journey on identify particularly when looked through gender and racial biased lenses.

Through the intimacy of the small space at IATI Theater and the spoken word works of the four actresses, Nieves-Powell stirred powerful emotions, forcing us to ask questions and confront societal demons which we generally try not to deal with.

Soledad Speaks shows the viewer the  effects of slavery and colonization on the women of Puerto Rico and how they perpetuate today but most importantly, the work is transcendent and speaks to all of us regardless of where we come from for the underlying message of acceptance is what you see here.

Meriam Rodriguez, Maria Rodriguez, Peggy Robles-Alvarado and J.F. Seary – together and separately – deliver a performance that comes from their own personal experiences so what you see is, raw and very real.

Through her choreography and dance, Milteri Tucker (Soledad) delivered a believable performance as an enslaved person who is kidnapped from her homeland and dragged thousands of miles across the ocean to foreign lands.

Tucker also delivered beautifully choreographed interludes as the rest of the cast is backstage prepping for the next scene.

In one scene, Milteri Tucker is poked, prodded and ridiculed for her ‘blackness’ as the 4 other cast members portray a “typical” day in a beauty salon where Latinas spend their hard earned money to wash away their heritage and conform to European edicts of standards of beauty.

‘Soledad Speaks’ is a must see and it is a shame that the show was only on for one week. The lessons taught during this performance and which the audience leaves with need to be part of a curriculum.
The many issues which the play deals with develop at a very young age and if we had our youth introduced to such plays as ‘Soledad Speaks’ we would be creating a brighter tomorrow.

The little girl with curly hair who’s bullied because of her strong, African features can walk with her head held high and proud of her ancestry rather than be ashamed of it.

The gay child who loves differently than what society says we should can continue to love without feeling bad or evil because of it

‘Soledad Speaks’ to each of us and forces us to be happy, proud and accept who we are.

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