‘Real Women’ Are Coming to NEIU

Desiree Dylong, Writer

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“Real Women Have Curves,” a play written by Josefina Lopez, was performed at NEIU in early December and was the first Stage Center production to have an all-Latina cast. Which was an important aspect of the production as the play is centered on a group of Latinas who work in a sewing factory in Los Angeles in the late 1980s.

Lopez wrote “Real Women Have Curves” based on the experiences she had while working in a sewing factory for five months in Los Angeles. It was during this experience that Lopez learned the value of bonding with other women. “I remember feeling blessed that I was a woman because male bonding could never compare with what happens when women work together. We had something special and I wanted to show the world,” Lopez said in her playwright notes. The special bonds formed inside of the factory is what helped to bring the characters of Ana, Estela, Carmen, Pancha and Rosali to audiences around the world.

Unlike the movie, the play wasn’t written to focus solely on Ana or feature her love interest, but rather to show the everyday life of the women working in the factory. For them an average day involved body image issues, risk of deportation, love interests, chisme, the clash of female identity as women, and making ends meet while struggling to meet workload deadlines.

The representation of Latino culture and having an all-female cast is part of what made director and NEIU graduate, Mary Kroeck, excited about the production. “The fact that it’s an all-female cast is really special. And even more so, it’s an all Latina cast which is a big deal. It’s also a bilingual show, and that resonates with our student body,” said Kroeck. She also explained how some of the character’s struggles are relatable to NEIU’s student body. For instance, students may be able to identify with Ana, the recent high school graduate. “The fact that Ana has just graduated high school and is looking to go to college, and has all these obstacles against her is also another thing that connects to a college environment,” said Kroeck.

The show being bilingual was a great way to reach a wider audience and the characters presented positive representations of Latinas. This positive representation is part of what made it easy for the cast to relate to their characters. When sitting down with the cast, they explained the different aspects and the themes from the show that resonated with them most.

Angelica Hernandez, who played Carmen, the 48-year-old mother who loves storytelling, is a recent NEIU graduate. She said that she was determined to play Carmen early on. Part of why she knew she wanted to play Carmen, was because of the connection she felt with the character. Hernandez explained, “It’s a character that I’ve known my whole life. She felt familiar to me.

Mary Kroeck
Mary Kroeck
Mary Kroeck

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‘Real Women’ Are Coming to NEIU