Photo by Jody Christopherson

A casting change reinvents Caridad Svich's CORAZON ETERNO

Friday | Apr. 7, 2017

Unlike many plays that receive the workshop treatment as part of The Rep's Ignite! Festival of New Plays, Caridad Svich's Corazon Eterno has already received a world premiere production at another theatre company. The play officially debuted in February at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, offering patrons a sprawling, multi-generational love story told with a healthy dose of magical realism.

But the version that Rep patrons will see and discuss this Saturday is going to be very different from the one that went up two months ago. That's because an unexpected casting change has flipped the gender of one of the script's two romantic leads. What was once the love story of Julia and Julio is now the love story of Julia... and Julia.

The actor previously cast to play Julio landed a great gig elsewhere, forcing him to drop out. Svich saw the casting opening as an opportunity to take a risk with her script.

"I had been thinking about making that role (Julio) female for a while," Svich says. "I was like, 'Wait a minute... could I do this? This would be so much fun.' I'd been wanting to try this for a long time."

Of course, changing Julio to Julia necessitated a complete overhaul of the script, which Svich had to complete in just one week. It wasn't just the pronouns that changed from one draft to the next.

"The emotional relationship is different," Svich says. "We're looking at coded relationships, in a very patriarchal culture, where gender roles are not as fluid. So the idea of transgression becomes a little more dangerous, and I think more interesting. ... It gives it a different weight."

Corazon Eterno translates to "always in my heart" in Spanish. It spun off, in part, from Svich's experiences of adapting Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, which appeared at Ignite! in 2013. 

"One of the things with Cholera that I was interested in was this long, unending love story," Svich says. "This idea that, 'We met as kids, and we still love each other at the end. That connection is still there.' That stayed with me, and I wanted to re-explore that idea in a different way."

Svich says that she hopes to "learn, learn, learn" during Ignite! by listening to her actors and to the audience when it provides feedback after Saturday's reading. While she plans to revise the script once again following the festival, one thing that won't change is the gender of the two lead characters.

"When we were meeting each other the other day, one of the actors asked, 'Is it going to change back?'" Svich says. "And I said, 'No, I think this is it. I think this is how I want the story to be told.' So that feels very empowering. Now it's just figuring out how it lands."

To secure your tickets for Saturday's reading of Corazon Eterno, click below: