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New show at freeFall goes bump in the night

Bill DeYoung

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A scene from the earlier production of "A Skeptic and a Bruja" at Sarasota's Urbanite Theatre. Photos provided.

Playwright Rosa Fernandez’s A Skeptic and a Bruja debuts tonight at freeFall Theatre, just two weeks after completing a successful run at Sarasota’s Urbanite Theatre. There’s been one cast change; otherwise it’s the same production that the Herald-Tribune said “conjures up a series of paranormal events so eerie and intense it will either exceed the limits of your credulity or turn you into a believer.”

It’s a haunted-house story, an old Victorian number with a sinister backstory. The present owner reports flickering lights, mysterious footfalls, flying objects et cetera, and summons a YouTube celebrity team of paranormal investigators.

Cynical Sam is the skeptic, and sympathetic Jess the bruja (a Latin word meaning, more or less, “witch”). Along with their videographer Remy, they “investigate” Priscilla’s home in order to get to the bottom of these odd goings-on.

All four characters are women of color, because Fernandez – who submitted the script to Urbanite’s Modern Works Festival in April 2021 – wanted “to write for the women who I wanted to see on the stage, and to write roles I would get excited about, that I would want to see on stage,” according to the Herald-Tribune.

“The process of development with this play really has been a process of honing and specifying,” director Patricia Amon also told the Sarasota paper. “We’ve got to see each of these women’s backstories, who they are, what are the things that motivate them. Aspects of it have changed tremendously but we have the same core characters, the same setup, the same goal of empowering themselves, discovering their self-power, standing on the shoulders of their ancestors and finding their power within.”

The cast of the freeFall production: Lorinda Hawkins-Smith, Maiya Reeves, Alisha Espinosa and Jen Diaz.

More information, and tickets, here.

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