Wellesley Repertory Theatre Presents “Sonia Flew”

June 2, 2017
Actors in “Sonia Flew”

Most parents would do anything to protect their children. And Sonia’s parents, to shield her from Fidel Castro’s Communist regime during the Cuban revolution, sent her to the United States in 1961. Sonia never saw them again.

At the beginning of the play Sonia Flew, by Melinda Lopez, lecturer in theatre studies at Wellesley, the title character is a grown woman living in the Midwest, with two children to whom she is fiercely devoted. She has assimilated completely into American culture and has created a home that embraces her own cultural traditions along with her husband’s Judaism.

However, Sonia has never really emotionally processed her own history and what led to her journey to the United States. When her son decides to enlist in the military and fight in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11, Sonia is overwhelmed by memories of her own childhood.

The play chronicles Sonia’s struggle to come to terms with her past, the loss of her parents, her own children, and her adopted country.  She combats unspeakable grief, as well as agonizing fears of abandonment over political forces that once again threaten to fracture her family.

Set in both post-revolutionary Havana, Cuba, and post-9/11 Minneapolis, Sonia Flew focuses on the large cultural and political forces of a historic moment to examine their impact on the lives of ordinary people. The play explores parental sacrifice, familial responsibility, and patriotism in times when worlds collide.

Nora Hussey, director of Wellesley College Theatre and of the Theatre Studies Program, said, “I love this play. I teach it every chance I get in my classes. People don’t know that children were sent by parents to unknown territory in the 1960s for their own protection.”

An immigrant herself who came from Ireland in 1957 after her father’s attempts at farming ultimately failed, Hussey is no stranger to culture shock or starting over in a strange land. Even decades later, she said, she still stays away from the departure lounge at Shannon Airport in Ireland, to avoid the poignant memories of her 5-year-old self witnessing crying adults.

Hussey said, “What this play does, as realized by a magnificent team of artists on and off the stage, is bring us all one step closer to understanding the concept of loss…and the deep human need for connection to our own history.”

“Great plays are inspired by many things,” Lopez told Daily Shot writers. “As I came to know better my own family’s history with Cuba, I learned about a cousin who had been a ‘Pedro Pan’ (Peter Pan), sent away from her homeland as a 10-year-old girl. I’d recently had a daughter myself, and wondered what could have motivated me to give up my child. At the same time, we were beginning a war in Iraq in 2003, when I started writing the play…and I saw families everywhere sending their children to war. I started to reflect on my own patriotism: What would I give up for my country?”

Sonia Flew won the Elliot Norton Award for “Best New Play” and the Independent Reviewers of New England awards for “Best Play” and “Best Production.” It has been produced at the Huntington Theatre, Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Laguna Playhouse, the Summer Playwrights Festival in New York, the Milagro Theatre, and the Steppenwolf Theatre.

Sonia Flew, directed by Lois Roach, senior lecturer in theatre studies, will run from June 2 to June 25 at the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre on the Wellesley College campus. To make a reservation, call the box office at 781-283-2000 or go to wellesleyrepertorytheatre.org