The life of writer/actor Malucha Pinto was profoundly altered by the birth of her severely disabled son. ” Letters for Tomas” grew out of the journal in which she chronicled that experience, tracing the incredible range of her own emotions (from terror right through to ecstasy) as well as the complex impact it had on her relationships and on her understanding of the world.
Pinto’s play begins with a gorgeous portrait of conception as an essentially supernatural process, the intrusion of a stray soul into a woman’s body. It expresses the high hopes that come along with that conception, and the trauma of having to revise those hopes in light of an unexpected reality. It goes on to place the life of a remarkable boy (a sweet soul with a drooping head and a tongue forever popping out “like a jumpy red squirrel”) in the context of his family, his culture, and the cosmos in which it is contained. The vision of Tomas is essentially spiritual. Its style is impressionistic, and its tone is ultimately liberating, uplifting.
In April of 2002, Letters for Tomas was brought to life on the Belfry’s Studio stage directed by Lina de Guevara and with an outstanding cast, including dynamic physical theatre performer Barbara Poggemiller, virtuoso choreographer and dancer Lynda Raino, veteran actor Roderick Glanville, and Canadian College of the Performing Arts student actor Dean Ozen. Their performances were enhanced by an exquisite soundscape created on stage by the musician Enrique Rivas. The sparse, dramatic set was designed by one of Victoria’s most gifted artists, Miles Lowry. The play was translated from the Spanish by Victoria resident, writer Valentina Cambiazo.
Though this will be the play’s first Canadian staging, Victoria audiences were introduced to the script two years ago during PUENTE’s well-received WorldPlay Reading Series at the Belfry. A Chilean documentary film about the life of Ms. Pinto and Tomas was screened recently in Chile.
In March, 2004, “Letters for Tomas” was presented in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as part of the conference “Challenging Stereotypes: A celebration of the Arts in the Community”, thanks to an invitation by the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies
Photos by Barbara Pedrick