Anna in the Tropics (TCG Edition)
Winner of the 2003 Pulitizer Prize for Drama
. . . there are many kinds of light.
The light of fires. The light of stars.
The light that reflects off rivers.
Light that penetrates through cracks.
Then there’s the type of light that reflects off the skin.
—Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics
This lush romantic drama depicts a family of cigar makers whose loves and lives are played out against the backdrop of America in the midst of the Depression. Set in Ybor City (Tampa) in 1930, Cruz imagines the catalytic effect the arrival of a new "lector" (who reads Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to the workers as they toil in the cigar factory) has on a Cuban-American family. Cruz celebrates the search for identity in a new land.
"The words of Nilo Cruz waft from the stage like a scented breeze. They sparkle and prickle and swirl, enveloping those who listen in both specific place and time . . . and in timeless passions that touch us all. In Anna in the Tropics, the world premiere work he created for Coral Gables’ intimate New Theatre, Cruz claims his place as a storyteller of intricate craftsmanship and poetic power."—Miami Herald
Nilo Cruz is a young Cuban-American playwright whose work has been produced widely around the United States including the Public Theater (New York, NY), South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, CA), Magic Theatre (San Francisco, CA), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, McCarter Theater (Princeton, NJ) and New Theatre (Coral Gables, FL). His other plays include Night Train to Bolina, Two Sisters and a Piano, Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams, among others. Anna in the Tropics also won the Steinberg Award for Best New Play. Mr. Cruz teaches playwriting at Yale University and lives in New York City.
When Juan Julian, a new lector, arrives at the tobacco shop, lives will inexorably be changed as he navigates through the prose of Anna Karenina for the edification of the cigar rollers. Set in Florida in 1929, the characters battle each other and themselves about the changing times as they confront technology, equality, money and love, reflected in the passages read by Julian. Though provocative and provoking in its suggestions and themes, this performance doesn't have much to beyond that. Jimmy Smits's performance peaks with his charged passages from Tolstoy's novel, but throughout the rest of the play his performance proves less than stellar. Some memorable performances include Winston Rocha as Santiago and Onahoua Rodriguez as Marela, but overall, the building tension in the short play feels forced and the performers seem to know this. L.A. Theatre Works, perhaps recognizing the brevity of the performance of this surprise Pulitzer Prize winner, provides an interview with Jimmy Smits to round out the production. The interview provides some insight to the decisions and the motivations of the cast as well as the director and writer.
An entertaining play of love and infidelity
Nilo Cruz’s ‘Anna of the Tropics’ (awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) is a story of a family in Tampa, FL in 1929 who hires a lector to read to the cigar rollers in the family’s cigar factory. The handsome lector arrives from Cuba, reads ‘Anna Karenina’, and romance and infidelity ensue.