Mathematics of Love

Archives of Cherríe L. Moraga
Archives of Cherríe L. Moraga

Mathematics of Love wonders of the role of “spirit” in the reconciliation of ruptured histories. Told through the bodies of people forgotten by history, the play is a modern Mexican-American story shaped by the legacy of a sexual and strategic liaison between slave and slave master.

In 1519, Malinche Tenepal was the Aztec slave given to Conquistador, Hernán Cortés. She became his concubine and translator/advisor in the invasion of indigenous Mexico. The union of these symbolic “parents of Mestizo México” parallels the much more benign union of my own parents — Mexican and Anglo — married in 1948.

In Mathematics, as the world turns into the 21st century, the 85-year-old and fictionalized “Peaches” lives with her gringo husband, two blocks from the Indian burial grounds of the San Gabriel Mission. Enter Malinche in red lipstick and sunglasses (conceived by Ricardo Bracho) and the two women are forced to (begrudgingly) attempt to reconcile a 500-year colonial history of betrayal.

Engaging a small team of Indigenous/Chican@ artists and musician collaborators, visual renderings and sound scapes time travels along with the play’s narrative — Tongva language utterances, Tohono O’odham hollow basket rhythms, jitterbug and big band. Pacific seascapes become the play’s horizon and Mesoamerican memory wafts through the characters’ bodies via a Cholulan flute. Set images are sparse and subtle and speak of Sonoran desert and California chaparral. Mathematics is a large story told from its most intimate site: an old woman’s unrequited desire on the eve of her death.

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