ArtsWest is thrilled to be home to the Seattle debut of Benjamin Benne’s new play ALMA, running May 5 through May 22.
Alma is a single mother and undocumented immigrant living in the US with her 17-year-old daughter, Angel. The play is set the night before Angel’s all-important SAT test. Through Benne’s poetic yet realistic writing, the realization creeps in that more’s at stake than just a test score. A sacrifice from Alma’s past weighs heavy on their present; now, Alma fears that her worst nightmare may soon be their reality. Will the American Dream cost them a life together?
Benjamin Benne was born and raised in Los Angeles County and, as an adult, has lived in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest — but now resides on the East Coast, where he is a David Geffen/Yale School of Drama MFA Candidate in Playwriting. He is a current member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages (NYC) and under commission from South Coast Repertory Theatre (Costa Mesa, CA).
ALMA will be directed by Sophie Franco, a bilingual, Peruvian-American making their ArtsWest directorial debut. They have worked professionally as an actor, director, playwright, dancer, bilingual text coach and teaching artist for companies in the Seattle area including Seattle Shakespeare Company, Intiman Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Upstart Crow Collective, ACTLab, Burien Actor’s Theater, Seattle Public Theatre, On the Boards, Horse in Motion, Umbrella Project, and Annex Theater. Franco has been an ensemble member and Resident Actor at Washington Ensemble Theatre since 2017.
On their position as director on this project, Franco says:
“So many things are beautiful and important about this play, which is why it’s a huge joy to work on it. First of all, the relationship between an immigrant mother and her daughter being displayed with such tenderness and thoughtfulness – humor, and also compassion, and also very realistically – is incredible. And that we love both characters and they’re very complex. They’re flawed people and we also see the best in them, and we want the best for them also. The way that this play uplifts the intellect, power, tenacity, determination, and powerful love that these women have for each other is really beautiful. I love the way that it reminds us of this powerful lineage – a powerful lineage of warriors, mothers, women – and the decades, centuries of resilience of these powerful people.”
Yolanda Suarez, who will be playing the title role of Alma, is a newcomer to the Seattle theatre scene. She has an M.F.A. in Performance from the University of Idaho and a Bachelors in Theatre Arts from the University of Oregon. She is part of Bandit Theater and a new improv show “MAD SCIENCE.” She is also the producer for the Moth StorySLAM/GrandSLAM for Seattle.
Portraying Alma’s daughter Angel is another new face to ArtsWest, Leah Sainz-Jones, a proud Latinx Mescalero Apache Chinese actor, singer, dancer, burlesque artist, and poet. Recent roles include THE FABULOUS FACTORY (Theater Schmeater), GHOST PARTY: REMASTERED (Dacha Theatre), XANADU, SONNETS FOR AN OLD CENTURY (Cornish), and they wrote, acted in and co-choreographed the virtual generative project BODIES OF WATER, put on by Cornish and UW last Spring.
The creative team features Costume Designer Zoé Shields (Seattle Shakespeare Theatre, Cornish, Dacha Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre), Sound Designer Andi Villegas (Cornish), Scenic Designer Parmida Ziaei (Seattle Shakespeare, Seattle Public Theatre, Seda Iranian Theatre Ensemble, Macha Theatre Works), Properties Designer Bella Rivera (Seattle Rep, Seattle Public Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Theatre, Teatro Luna), Lighting Designer Casey Price, and Dramaturg and Dialect Coach Antonieta Carpio.
Yolanda Suarez – Alma
Leah Sainz-Jones – Angel
Sophie Franco – Director
Bella Rivera – Properties Master
Zoé Shields – Costume Designer
Casey Price – Lighting Designer
Parmida Ziaei – Scenic Designer
Andi Villegas – Sound Designer
Antonieta Carpio – Dramaturg and Dialect Coach
About the Production
ALMA plays May 5th – May 22nd, 2022 at ArtsWest, 4711 California Ave SW, Seattle WA 98116. Tickets ($15-$120) available online at www.artswest.org, by phone at 206-938-0339, or at the box office Thursday – Saturday 4 – 7 pm
West Seattle, Washington