Silueta is a two-person play inspired by the true story of Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-American performance artist and sculptor, whose life ended in a harrowing 34-story fall from the SoHo apartment she shared with her husband, Minimalist sculptor, Carl Andre. Ana, 36 at the time of her death in 1985, was a rising star in the SoHo art scene, known for her signature siluetas–provocative impressions of her naked body in blood, earth, fire and and other manifestations of nature. Carl, already famous as a founding father of geometric, building-block Minimalism, was past the peak of his career. It was a marriage of opposing artistic temperaments, fueled by ferocious ego and ambition on the part of both. Due to the emotional violence of their relationship and Carlʼs enigmatic behavior following Anaʼs death, he was accused and tried for her murder. Although Carl was eventually acquitted, the incident polarized the art world and became a cause célèbre for feminists, many of whom still believe in Carlʼs guilt. Although there is much speculation about what actually happened that terrible night, only Carl, now an old man still living in that same 34th-floor apartment, really knows. Or does he? Silueta imagines an elderly Carl, desperate to recover artistic potency, but blocked by a past he is unwilling to remember and face. He is haunted by the passionately ʻrealʼ ghost of Ana, equally desperate to discover the truth of her death and, more important, the truth of her life and Carlʼs love.
Silueta is a collaboration by actor/writers Diana Burbano and Tom Shelton and director/writer Chris Shelton. Diana, a Colombian-American, was initially drawn to Anaʼs story because as an actress she was not finding female, much less Latina, roles of interest and substance. The character of Ana Mendieta–a Cuban refugee, a provocative artist who worked in her own blood, a brilliant woman tragically engaged in a marital dance of death–inspired Dianaʼs imagination. Diana and Tom had always wanted a “two-hander,” something they could produce and perform themselves. The story of Ana and Carl fit the bill. Tom and Diana began writing the play and almost immediately brought in Chris as a director to help shape the scenes. It soon became apparent that the play was being created seamlessly, almost devised, really, by the three collaborators.
|Carl Andre||Anthony Heald|
|Ana Mendieta||Nancy Rodriguez|
|Stage Directions||Michael Gabriel Goodfriend|
The action takes place in an abstract space that can become variously Carl’s bedroom, a New York sidewalk, an art gallery in New York or Rome, and Cuba. Sound and lighting effects are suggested throughout the script. Props and sets are minimal. The words carry us through Carl’s haunted memories.
Chris has been working in theater, films, and television for almost fifty years. As a stage director, Chris garnered Dramalogue awards for Candida and Tartuffe at the Bank Playhouse and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Mysteries and Miracles: An Evening of Medieval Theater at the Occidental Theater Festival.
His production of Our Town at Hillside Repertory made the Los Angeles Times list of “Best LA Theater of 1999”. Other directing credits include The Odd Couple, As You Like It, Travesties, Tartuffe, The Devil’s Disciple, Private Lives, Blithe Spirit, Under Milkwood, The Threepenny Opera, The Great God Brown, Blood Knot, Orpheus in the Underworld, and The Real Love, starring Adam Pascal, Cady Huffman, and Shirley Jones.
Chris is a CLIO-winning commercial director and writer/director of numerous television programs and documentaries. His film comedies, Moving Alan and Protect-O-Man, won festival awards around the country. He is a directing fellow of the Sundance Institute and the performance director of the live-narrated, animated planetarium shows at Griffith Observatory, Hollywood. Also with Diana Burbano and Tom Shelton, Chris co-wrote a one-act stage play, The Strange Education of Marina Santiago-Scripps.
Diana Burbano, a Colombian immigrant, is an Equity actor, a playwright and a teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble.
Diana’s plays focus on female protagonists and social issues. Written work includes Policarpa (Living Room at the Blank 2018, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Black Swan Lab 2017); Fabulous Monsters (Latinx Play Festival, San Diego Rep 2017); Caliban’s Island (2017 Headwaters New Play Festival); Enemy|Flint, which premiered in April at Rio Hondo College; and Linda (in English and in Spanish), which has been seen all over the world.
As an actor she originated the roles of Ama de Casa in the Spanish version of Menopause the Musical; Thumb in in Imagine; and Ana Guerrero in Jose Cruz Gonzales’ Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy at South Coast Repertory. She was in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Latinx Play Project 2016; is currently in Center Theatre group’s 2018-19 Writers Workshop; and is under commission by Alternative Theatre Ensemble.
Tom Shelton is an accomplished writer, composer, musical director, teacher, and actor. He is the author, along with long-time collaborator Susan Hunter, of the award winning musical Caddie Woodlawn. They have written several TYA’s under commission, including The King of Millard Fillmore Junior High for the Imagination Machine and The Boy Who Ruled the Moon and the Sun for the San Diego Opera.
He has also written a series of successful murder mysteries produced throughout Southern California by The Gourmet Detective, including Darling, You Slay Me! and Stay Tuned for Murder. Other original works include The Man Who Shot the Man Who Shot Jesse James; The Disciples Undoing; Speakeasy; and a long string of classic fairy tales musically adapted for the Barnsdall Theater in Hollywood. His play The Strange Education of Marina Scripps, with collaborators Chris Shelton and Diana Burbano, recently won the Out On A Limb contest in San Diego in 2017.