Two years since Hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican actress and Southwark resident Amanda Vilanova has created a show about her country’s past for audiences in her new home city. Hurricane Diaries tells the story of Puerto Rico’s history through the eyes of an immigrant in the UK and will run from October 2nd to 19th at Southwark’s Blue Elephant Theatre, just a stone’s throw from London’s largest Latin American community at Elephant and castle.
Hurricane Diaries re-tells history from a Latin American perspective, sharing stories that are rarely told in the UK. Exploring themes of colonisation, nostalgia and cultural identity, it picks apart inequalities on the island from subservience to Spain and the US to macho attitudes towards women.
Following a work in progress performance at the female-led Accalia Arts Festival, Hurricane Diaries will have a three week run at Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell, in October. Part history lesson, part memoir, Hurricane Diaries is a vibrant and captivating new play, inspired by a sense of ‘home’ and the changing relationship an immigrant has with their homeland.
Amanda, now living locally to Camberwell, has written and will be performing in the production. She plays Victoria, a young woman from Puerto Rico who has moved to London in search of a better life and a glimpse of the land of the Brontes and Jane Austen. When the island is ravaged by Hurricane María, she looks back at what it is to be from a place forever changed by violent forces. Amanda and her collaborator Oliver Hamilton researched her family history and Puerto Rico’s past extensively and travelled to Puerto Rico to record the soundscape for the show, to evoke the atmosphere of the island for audiences.
Amanda says: “I wrote Hurricane Diaries with the hope of telling the story of Puerto Rico, presenting a story Latin American audience members can identify with and UK born audiences can empathize with. I also hope it speaks to other immigrants in London, wherever they are from.”
Blue Elephant Theatre, 59a Bethwin Rd, Camberwell, SE5 0XT from Wednesday 2nd October – Saturday 19th October (selected dates only: 2nd – 4th, 10th – 12th, 17th – 19th October). Time: 8:00pm (plus a 4.30pm matinee on Friday 18th October). Admission: £12.50, £10 (concessions), £8.50 (Southwark residents; October 2nd & 3rd: £10, £9 (concessions), £8 (Southwark residents). Phone: 020 7701 0100
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Phot of Amanda Vilanova – Credit Chris Mann