Anna in the Tropics
Anna en el Tropico (Anna in the Tropics) is about Cuban immigrants who brought the cigar-making industry to South Florida in the early 20th century. When they came, they carried with them another tradition. As the workers toiled away in the factory hand rolling each cigar, a lector, (historically well-dressed and well-spoken) would read to them. It was the lector who informed, organized and entertained the workers until the 1930s, when the rollers and the readers were replaced by mechanization. The arrival of a new “lector” at a 1929 Cuban cigar factory in Ybor City, Florida becomes a catalyst amongst the workers. As the “lector” begins to read from Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”, forbidden passions are unleashed in this Pulitzer prize-winning play about the transformative power of literature in a landscape that pits old traditions against changing economic realities.
The play won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Cuban playwright Nilo Cruz. This production was co-produced by Burien Actors Theatre and featured what has to be the most multi-cultural cast to appear on a Seattle-area stage. It included two Mexicans, a Cuban, a Guatamalan, an African-American, a Filipino, Filipno-African-American, a Dominican, a European-American, and a Bosnian. They were Maria Knox, Idalia Limon, Eloisa Cardona, Gabriel Sedgemore, Erwin Galan, Jason Pead, Fernando Luna, Mariajose Barrera, Mireya Beltre, and Boris Popvic. The design crew featured Maggie Larrick, Steve Cooper, John Epperson, and Adrian Keller. Direction was by Roy Antonio Arauz with stage management by Alan Parsons.