Rifar el Corazón
by Dino Armas (Uruguay)

directed by Mario Marcel (Argentina)

May 6 - May 29, 2010

at Gunston Arts Center  -  Theatre 2

2700 South Lang St., Arlington, VA 22206

In Spanish with English Surtitles

Dramatic Comedy    -   Ages: 13+

Starring Yovinca Arredondo, Nucky Walder & Marycarmen Wila.

With live music by Alex Alburqueque.

Two sisters meet in a poignant farewell.  Under the guise of humor and tenderness we also see joy, sorrow, cattiness, dreams, hopes and hopes dashed... and the fond memories Life gives us during moments of happiness.

Noche de Luna / Luna Night - Fundraising Night: Tickets for the "Noche de

Luna" ordered through the Internet do not apply for a 10% discount.

This production replaces "Our Weekend"


Photo Gallery

Press Reviews

Press Reviews

Arlington Connection, by Brad Hathaway

Bob Anthony, by Bob Anthony

DC Theatre Scene, by Rosalind Lacy

The Examiner, by Barbara Mackay (Special to The Examiner)

Rich Massabny, by Rich Massabny

Washington Post, by Celia Wren

Arlington Connection

Espanol or in English, Teatro Delivers a Gentle Treat

Uruguayan Play "Rifar el Corazón" ("Heartstrings")

Arlington’s Teatro de la Luna is offering a gentle comedy/drama from Uruguay at the Gunston Arts Center’s Theatre Two. It is presented, as most of Teatro’s plays are, in Spanish with English surtitles projected above the playing space.

This means that the show is instantly accessible for the Spanish speaking portion of our community. That is a community which is served by two professional Spanish language companies (the other being GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington).

It also makes the theatrical literature of the majority of the Americas accessible to our English speakers who can read along with only slightly more effort than watching and listening to a play in their native tongue.

"Rifar el Corazón" ("Heartstrings" in English) is a warm drama with plenty of humor by Dino Armas, an award-winning and highly prolific playwright from Montevideo. It is directed with simple, straightforward honesty by Teatro de la Luna’s Artistic Director, Mario Marcel on a simple but efficient set of his own design.

Most of the play takes place center-stage at a dinning room table where two sisters share thoughts, memories and barbs over tea or the ubiquitous South American beverage mate, which is sipped through a metal straw from a gourd. Two spaces to the sides are draped with thin fabric which lets the audience see flashback scenes that fill out the plot between sisterly reminiscences.

These reminiscences bring to light the reasons that underlie the tensions between the sisters, the near catatonic state of the daughter of the older sister. She has neither spoken nor stood since she underwent an abortion following an affair her mother may well have opposed. The story of the affair, the abortion and the reaction comes out in a cascade of details as the sisters recall bits and pieces of their past.

While it is a three-woman show, one woman sets the tone. She’s Nucky Walder, a Teatro de la Luna regular and its producer. Her comfort level on stage is such that she carries the evening on her shoulders. As the older sister, the one who has spent her later life caring for her wheelchair-bound daughter, she sets the pace of the conversation and it is her transitions from lighthearted banter to defensive retorts and from exasperated rejoinders to reluctant regrets that make the show much more than just a verbal contest between sisters.

The other sister is played by Marycarmen Wila with a smooth, pleasant presence. Yovinca Arredondo Justiniano is fully up to the more challenging task of portraying the daughter both in the current moment in her wheelchair, and in the flashbacks, as a love-struck and vital young girl.

A very important element in Marcel’s staging is the presence of a fourth performer, Alex Alburqueque who sits at a piano on one side of the stage and sings soulful songs before each act and between each scene. His smooth delivery is appropriately devoid of flashy embellishments, allowing the simple beauty of the songs to linger in the hall. Unfortunately, the lyrics of the songs are not translated into English for display on the surtitle screen.

Reading and following simultaneously does take a bit more concentration than simply watching, but the experience soon becomes nearly second nature. The English translations of the Spanish text of the play are best viewed from the seats higher up in the rows where the eyes can follow both text and action without English speakers having to keep moving their heads up and down with each line of dialogue. Spanish speaking audience members, on the other hand, would do better to sit lower down where they may not even notice the surtitle board once the action gets going. Either way, the play provides a gentle pleasure.

Bob Anthony
Drama and Dance

Nucky Walder reigns over the production of "HEARTSTRINGS" at Teatro de la Luna (To 5/29) which is a warm domestic comedy headed for tragedy that almost always tugs at one's heartstrings as two sisters bicker yet cajole each other about one's daughter who has turned into a mute, phyical wreck presumably around the time of her abortion. There are "spiritual" scenes as the daughter (movingly played by Yovinca Arredondo Justiniano), during flashback normality, monologues about her pre-abortion days of love and passion and concerns. Marycarmen Wila plays the other sister/aunt, Silvana, but she is too toned down during the verbal conflict scenes so Ms. Walder had to handle the emotional builds on her own and she does so most effectively. She also provides the greater part of the humor in the script. Playwright Dino Armas provides a beautifully-drawn script which is good family fare and gets one to reconsider the constant intrusion by the media of unnatural sex in what were most peoples' previous and desireable romantic lives. Such poignant romantic life is played and sung about by Alex Alburqueque at a side piano. The play is finely directed by Mario Marcel who also provides a comfortable and old-fashioned dining room set to add to the play's themes of past reverie. Ayun Fedorcha again gives very sensitive lighting especially for the memory scenes. This is a highly recommended family play that gives some powerful messages about the mores of our society and current family life. Again a reminder that the play is in Spanish but there are English surtitles throughout. (Reviewed by Bob Anthony)

DC Theatre Scene

Washington’s Liveliest Theatre Website

Heartstrings / Rifar el Corazon

We’ve all been through hellish family reunions so we can relate to Dino Armas’ character-driven, black comedy about two sisters, one a mother, and her disabled daughter. In Teatro de la Luna’s 2004 International Festival of Hispanic Theatre, the Uruguayan Heartstrings won enough praise to inspire artistic director Mario Marcel to revive it in 2010.

Playwright Dino Armas, a prolific writer of over 30 plays in Spanish, has won many awards, including the Florencio, the equivalent to Broadway’s Tony Award. Marcel, who directs, adds his own all-embracing flair to this beautiful play by reinforcing the Teatro de la Luna company’s clear-intentioned, good solid acting, with familiar Spanish ballads—known as boleros in Uruguay - sung cabaret-style by baritone Alex Alburqueque, in a spotlight. The overall impact is hypnotic entertainment and well worth experiencing.

Read more

The Examiner

Comedy meets sensitivity in Teatro de la Luna's 'Heartstrings'

"Rifar El Corazon" ("Heartstrings") by Uruguayan playwright Dino Armas is a bracing blend of the familiar and the strange, a poetic vision of a common event -- the parting of two sisters -- set within a frame of unfamiliar, uncommon details.

The sensitive production of "Heartstrings" at Teatro de La Luna brings out both the comedy and the pathos in Armas' work. Masterfully directed by Mario Marcel, who also designed the effective set, the play develops in three separate places.

The first area is created by Alex Alburqueque, who sings as he plays an upright piano to one side of the stage, creating a gentle, romantic mood with each song. All are sung in Spanish; Agustin Lara's "Only Once" is the most famous. The music comes and goes, continually re-establishing the mood of reverie that underlies the play.

The second area of attention is the relationship between the sisters. Silvana (Marycarmen Wila) has come to visit her sister Marta (Nucky Walder) before leaving to visit her son in New York. This is where all the comedy of the play exists -- and there is plenty of it -- and also a great deal of tenderness. Silvana brings old photographs, letters and memories of the life she and Marta shared growing up. Much of the play involves these two women sharing old secrets at the dining room table of Marta's home.

Wila is excellent as the spoiled woman whose life has been empty and who is so controlling of her existence, she brings her own tea and sweetener when she travels. Wila neatly establishes Silvana's fears: fear of New York and of leaving the world she knows.

But it is Walder who makes the duet so compelling, stressing in every tiny detail how different the sisters are -- and were all along. The role calls for high comedy that takes a swift plunge into darker emotions and Walder handles both easily. She has the ability to take a line of dialogue and give all the words intense depth and breadth. If she were a singer, Walder would be a coloratura soprano.

The third area of attention in this play belongs to Marta's wheelchair-bound daughter, Alicia (Yovinca Arredondo Justiniano). Although Alicia cannot be heard by Marta and Silvana, the audience hears her lyrical monologues, usually delivered behind a transparent curtain. Since a considerable trauma has put Alicia into the wheelchair, listening to her memories of the boy she once loved and of the person she used to be is intensely moving.

Armas has a prodigious ability to hear the silly, the profound, the bizarre. In this play he has skillfully married that ability to symbolism, music, poetry and theatrical craft. He is fortunate to be produced by a theater company intelligent enough to handle the subtle intricacies of his "Heartstrings."

Rich Massabny


“Arlington Weekly News TV” Comcast CHANNEL 69

Broadcast 2010: Thurs., 5/20, 6 p.m.; Sat., 5/22, 10:30 a.m.;

Mon., 5/24, 8:30 p.m. www.richmassabnyreviews.blogspot.com

“Conversations with Rich” Broadcast 2010: Cox Fairfax Channel 10 and

FIOS (Metropolitan area) Tues., May 25, 9:30 p.m.; Wed., May 26, 1 p.m.


TEATRE De La LUNA - "Heartstrings" ("Rifar el Corazon")

“Heartstrings” is one of the best shows I’ve seen at Teatro De La Luna---and for that matter, anywhere. It’s an intelligent, resonating, emotional play written by Uruguayan Dino Armas. Teatro’s artistic director, Mario Marcel, tinkered with the story a bit, limiting the production to three female actors, enhanced by a piano and the voice of Alex Alburqueque. Teatro producer/actress Nucky Walder plays the older sister Marta to wealthy widow, Silvana (Marycarmen Wila). Recent arrival from Bolivia, actress Yovinca Arredondo plays Marta’s daughter Alicia who is wheelchair-bound. She had apparently suffered an emotional breakdown through a relationship we don’t see and is dependent on her mother for everything. Arredondo gets her chance to show her acting talents in “remembrance” touching scenes. “Heartstrings” is playing in the intimate black box theater at Gunston Arts Center-Theatre II through May 29 on Thursdays through Saturdays. English translations are flashed overhead. For information and tickets, call 703-548-3092. Check the website at www.teatrodelaluna,org. Don’t Miss This!

Washington Post

“Heartstrings,” exerting a quietly strong pull

White drapery seals off the corners of a tiny living room. On the floor, near a table covered with a pink cloth, potted plants crowd so closely together they seem to choke each other. There's a claustrophobic tinge to the cozy home we visit in "Rifar el Corazón (Heartstrings)," the tightly focused and affecting new production from Teatro de la Luna. The set's cooped-up vibe suits the material: Contemporary Uruguayan playwright Dino Armas's wry, rueful drama depicts three women coping with hemmed-in lives and the burden of a scandalous secret or two.

The cluttered living room is the domain of Marta (Nucky Walder), a citizen of an unnamed South American country who spends her days watching TV talk shows and caring for her near-comatose daughter Alicia (Yovinca Arredondo Justiniano). When Marta's finicky sister Silvana (Marycarmen Wila) visits from across town, prior to moving to New York to keep house for a tyrannical son, old resentments and accusations flare up amidst the reminiscences and sisterly bonding.

Deftly directed by Mario Marcel, the cast turns in subtle but intense performances that capture the complexity of the play's eddying humor and emotion. Now resigned, now bitter and mocking, now indulging in small power plays or complaining about a neighbor's evil eye, Walder's careworn Marta is particularly compelling. Wila is gently funny as Silvana, whose predilection for imported raspberry tea contrasts with Marta's traditional mate drinking. The sisters' attire further underscores their differences: In a pearl necklace and poppy-red jacket, Silvana looks ready for a corporate meeting, while Marta's drab-toned slacks and blouses suggest a long-ago surrender to domestic monotony. (Rosita Becker and Walder designed the costumes.)

Justiniano does a nice job with the role of Alicia, ensconced in a wheelchair, seemingly lost in a catatonic stupor, for most of her time on stage, but shifting gracefully into portraits of elated, mobile sensuality during several flashbacks and interior monologues. In another effective bit of stylization, the play's four scenes are bookended by romantic ballads sung by Alex Alburqueque from a piano beside the stage. These musical interludes supply a sense of philosophical perspective that keeps the drama's cloistered world from feeling too cramped.

Though Armas has built a twist into his cleverly constructed tale, "Rifar el Corazón" is predominantly a quiet play, and some of Marta and Silvana's nostalgia sessions -- cooing over old photographs, giggly reenactment of a school pageant -- go on a little long. For the most part, though, the production is an intriguing taste of Armas's work, and it's one of the most polished pieces Teatro de la Luna has mounted in recent years.

Wren is a freelance writer.

Rifar el Corazón (Heartstrings) by Dino Armas. Direction and set and sound design by Mario Marcel; lighting, Ayun Fedorcha. In Spanish with English surtitles (translation, Michael Gunn and Marcela Ferlito). About two hours. Through May 29 at Gunston Arts Center, Theater II, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington. Call 703-548-3092.

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Week 1

Thursday 5/6 (8PM)

Friday 5/7 (8PM)

Saturday 5/8 (3PM)

Saturday 5/8 (8PM)

“Luna Night”

Fundraising Night

General Admission $40

Week 2

Thursday 5/13 (8PM)

Friday 5/14 (8PM)

Saturday 5/15 (3PM)

Saturday 5/15 (8PM)

Week 3

Thursday 5/20 (8PM)

Friday 5/21 (8PM)

Saturday 5/22 (3PM)
Saturday 5/22 (8PM)

Week 4

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Friday 5/28 (8PM)

Saturday 5/29 (3PM)
Saturday 5/29 (8PM)