Photograph by Steve Bartolomeo
Friends in Need: Pascal (Felipe Barajas, left) and Anon (Eddie Hoffman) bond over junk food in 'Anon(ymous),' opening this week.
Cabrillo Stage Presents West Coast Premiere of 'Anon(ymous)'
Naomi Iizuka's play combines 'The Odyssey' with a modern-day immigration tale.
By Denise Vivar
Imagine if you were stripped of your identity and your life as you know it were erased. You search for your roots and your home while struggling to survive on a path crowded with obstacles. Such is the plight of the refugee and the theme of the play Anon(ymous) by award-winning dramatist Naomi Iizuka. Anon(ymous) is a modern adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, and its performance by the Cabrillo Theatre Arts this November marks its California premiere.
Anon(ymous) is the tale of a young Southeast Asian refugee who is separated from his mother while fleeing a war. Like Odysseus, he survives a shipwreck and is washed up on shore, except our protagonist ends up in America while, unbeknownst to him, his mother toils in a sweatshop. Also like Odysseus, he must use his wits, fortitude, cunning and humor to survive. In this modern-day plot, Anon(ymous) forces us to confront the harsh realities of the life of the outsider in a diverse contemporary American landscape, dumpster diving and all.
The protagonist assumes different names as each situation presents itself, but is referred to only as "Anon" in the script. Iizuka reasons it was "a very apt metaphor for what people have to do when they come to a new land. You change your name, or it's changed for you. ... You're faced with the choice of having to change the core of your identity when you adapt to a new place."
Certainly cultural adaptation is not a new theme in America, and when asked how she came to choose this play, director Robin Aronson explains, "I was really attracted by both the mythological quality and the contemporary theme and characters." The epic tale of Odysseus and his trials is an ageless story adapted and retold throughout history, and while the characters may be war veterans, refugees or immigrants, the story resonates with us all. "It's about getting home to where we belong," says Aronson.
Another of Iizuka's plays, Polaroid Stories, is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. She explains the allure of the classic tale: "They present us with these primordial struggles and conflicts that we all must deal with, no matter where we come from. I think because of that, these stories are somewhat magical. They crack open some seed of human mystery. And they're just amazing stories." Anon's search for identity, and his tale of loss, hope, perseverance and the journey home is a story both mythical and timeless.
The cast for this innovative adaptation is suitably diverse in culture and age and will be accompanied by an original music score by Cabrillo College music professor Michael Strunk, director of the Cabrillo Latin Music Ensemble.
ANON(YMOUS) opens Friday, Nov. 2 and runs through Nov. 18 at the Cabrillo College Theater, 6500 Soquel Dr., Aptos. Fri-Sat shows start at 8pm, Sun shows at 3pm. Tickets are $10-$15. For info, call 831.479.6331 or www.ticketguys.com.
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