(Click on image to download play)
Anyone considering staging this play, should contact the author. This PDF version of A Dream of Canaries is the recommended rewrite.
A Dream of Canaries has undergone extensive revision since it was published in Denise Chavez' anthology of Latina Playwrights, Shattering the Myth. Due thanks is given to Roberta Uno, whose production at World Stage and master's thesis provided me with a thorough and scholarly analysis of A Dream of Canaries. From her thesis, I was able to take an "unfinished play," that is a play published before having the benefit of workshop or production, and revise it as if I had been present throughout rehearsals.
A Dream of Canaries takes place in that famous Unknown Latin American Republic where the names of the innocent and guilty may substitute for people we have known or read about. It consists of 13 characters and is approximately 120 minutes in length.
Nina and Jesus are two young people just trying to get ahead but no matter what they do, they can't avoid the political repression that is taking place around them. When Jesus is drafted, he decides that this may be a way out from his gigolo existence. Soon he finds himself assigned to the dirty work of making people disappear. Nina is a prostitute with a thirst for learning and an eye for a better life. When Nina and Jesus meet, they are drawn and repelled to each other, each burning with a healthy dose of self-loathing.
When a favorite client of hers, a scientist, disappears, Nina finds it more and more difficult to avoid taking a stand. At the same time Jesus finds it just as difficult to carry out his missions. Together they are forced out from their carefully constructed worlds to take action. As the play progresses, the Desaparecidos surround the characters. As the action accelerates, the Desaparecidos more emphatically impose themselves upon the others, until finally, they remove their masks and speak—no longer passive, and impossible to ignore.