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“El Che” is a play written by Marcelino Quiñonez and produced by Benny Morel. Ernesto “Che” Guevara fought alongside Fidel Castro from 1956 to 1965 and was a leader of the Cuban Revolution. The play focuses on “Che” the husband, friend, father, and the revolutionary.
Playwright and actor Marcelino Quiñonez along with producer Benny Morel discuss the play.

JOSE: IN "SOUNDS OF CULTURA S O C", "EL CHE" IS A PLAY WRITTEN ABOUT ERNESTO "CHE" GUEVARA WHO FOUGHT ALONGSIDE FIDEL CASTRO DURING THE CUBAN REVOLUTION, AND WAS A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTOR TO THE CASTRO GOVERNMENT FROM 1956 TO 1965. JOINING ME IS PLAYWRIGHT MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ AND BENNY MOREL, THE PRODUCER OF THE PLAY. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US. WE ALREADY NOTED THAT YOU ARE THE PRODUCER AND YOU ARE THE PLAYWRIGHT.

MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: I AM. I WROTE THIS IN 2007 AS A CAP STONE PROJECT FOR MY GRADUATION FROM ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY AND PERFORMED IT AGAIN IN 2009 IN SPANISH. THE PLAY HAS GONE THROUGH MODIFICATIONS AND ADDITIONS AND WAS PUBLISHED LAST YEAR AS PART OF AN ANTHOLOGY PUT ON BY "TEATRO BRAVO" CALLED CELEBRATING OUR HERITAGE ON STAGE. EVEN NOW AFTER THE PLAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED THERE ARE STILL ADDITIONS AND CUTS TAKING PLACE. SO IT IS A LIVING DOCUMENT THAT WE ARE GOING TO BE PUTTING ON STAGE.

JOSE: WE WANT TO BEGIN THIS DISCUSSION WITH A PICTURE OF YOU BACK IN 2007 THAT WE HAVE. WE ARE GOING TO PUT THE PICTURE ON THE SCREEN.

MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: SURE.

JOSE: THAT IS ONE OF THE PEOPLE IN THE CAST. BUT WE HAVE A PICTURE OF YOU AS CHE. HOPEFULLY IT WILL COME UP ON THE SCREEN AT SOME POINT. BUT IN THE MEANTIME THERE YOU ARE. THERE YOU ARE. AND AS YOU WILL RECALL IN THE GREEN ROOM THAT WAS CHE BUT THAT WAS YOU.

MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: THAT IS A PICTURE TAKEN BY MY SISTER IN LAW. THE FIRST TIME I DID THE PLAY, I WANTED TO RECREATE SOME ICONIC IMAGES OF "CHE" AND THIS IS ONE THAT WE STAGED. IT'S IN BLACK AND WHITE SO A LOT OF TIMES PEOPLE DO THINK IT IS "CHE" BUT IN REALITY IT IS ME.

JOSE: YOU TURNED IT INTO A PAINTING THAT IS GOING TO BE ON DISPLAY, NOT IN THE PLAY, BUT IN THE AREA. THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE PAINTING WE WILL THROW UP ON THE SCREEN WHEN WE GET A CHANCE. THERE IT IS IN FACT. TELL US WHAT GOT YOU INVOLVED AS THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF THIS PLAY?

BENNY MOREL: GROWING UP IN THE SOUTH BRONX AT THE AGE OF 14 I WAS INTERESTED IN SOME DAY PRODUCING A PLAY, SOME DAY A MUSICAL CONCERT AND THE OPPORTUNITY CAME ABOUT IN 2015 WHEN I MET MARCELINO AND HE TOLD ME HE WROTE A PLAY AND IT WAS PUBLISHED AND THAT FASCINATED ME.

JOSE: YOU ARE THE MAIN GUY IN TERMS OF GETTING THIS TOGETHER BUT YOU HAVE OTHER SUPPORTERS HELPING YOU FUND THE PLAY.

BENNY MOREL: ABSOLUTELY. COMMUNITY BUSINESS OWNER AND CONTRIBUTORS. FAIR TRADE CAFE, HUGO LARGOS LAW FIRM, BONNIE BOWDEN. WE HAVE AN EXTREME BUSINESS COMMUNITY THAT IS HELPING US PRODUCE THIS PLAY. IT IS A TEAM EFFORT. IT IS NOT JUST ONE PERSON. IT IS A TEAM EFFORT COMPRISED OF MANY BUSINESS OWNERS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY.

JOSE: THERE ARE PLAYS ABOUT CHE, LIKE THE "THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES" AND THE MEETING IN "EVITA" WHAT DOES YOUR PLAY ADD THAT WE HAVEN'T SEEN?

MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: I WAS REALLY INVOLVED AND HAVE BEEN INVOLVED POLITICALLY IN SOCIAL CAUSES. I REMEMBER IN 2006 DURING THE WHOLE COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM DEBATE THERE WERE A LOT OF MARCHES. I WAS A STUDENT AT THE TIME AND SAW A LOT OF PEOPLE WEARING THE T SHIRT AND I SAID TO MYSELF I AM NEVER GOING TO WEAR THAT T SHIRT UNTIL I UNDERSTAND WHO THAT PERSON IS. SO IN MANY WAYS MY PLAY ATTEMPTS TO ANSWER WHO IS THAT MAN ON THE T SHIRT. I WENT ON A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY BY READING AND BEGAN TO PIECE DIFFERENT TIMES IN CHE'S LIFE I FOUND VERY INTERESTING. IN THE END, I WROTE A PLAY THAT PICKS UP ON THE DAY THAT CHE DIES. WHAT HE IS DOING

JOSE: THE DAY BEFORE HE DIES? HE HAS JUST BEEN CAPTURED.
MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: HE HAS JUST BEEN CAPTURED AND STARTS TALKING TO SOLDIER RODRIGUEZ, WHO IS A CUBAN AMERICAN WHO EXISTED IN REAL LIFE. SO TELLING HIS OWN STORY TO RODRIGUEZ AS A WAY TO VALIDATE HIS OWN EXISTENCE THAT THE AUDIENCE GOES ON A SERIES OF MEMORIES THAT CHE EXPERIENCED. WHAT MAKES MY PLAY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER INTERPRETATIONS OF "CHE" IS I LOOK AT "CHE" AS THE FATHER, THE HUSBAND, THE FRIEND, THE EDUCATOR, AS THE DOCTOR. THERE IS REALLY INTIMATE MOMENTS WHERE HE ENGAGES WITH HIS TWO WIVES.

JOSE: IT IS A FULLER PORTRAYAL OF THE MAN NOT JUST THE MYTH.

MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: RIGHT.

JOSE: I HATE TO CUT YOU OFF. I WANT TO GET TO THE PICTURES OF THE CAST MEMBERS BUT FIRST WE HAVE A PICTURE OF THE BANNER THAT PROMOTES THE SHOW. WE WANT TO PUT THAT ON THE SCREEN AND RUN QUICKLY THROUGH AS MANY OF THE PICTURES OF THE CAST MEMBERS AS WE CAN. SO WE WILL START WITH THE CAST MEMBERS NOW. ONE OF THEM WE ALREADY SAW ON THE SCENE EARLIER. LET'S TALK ABOUT THE CAST. WHEN YOU DID IT IN 2007 IT WAS A ONE PERSON PLAY. NOW YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS.

MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: WE HAVE EXTRAORDINARY TEAM OF LOCAL ACTORS. THIS IS VENEZUELAN JAVIER AND THEN WE HAVE ELIZA GONZALEZ, JAMES GARCIA. THIS IS THE BANNER YOU ARE DESCRIBING. IT IS 32 FEET BY 10. THIS IS BENNY'S CREATION. THERE IS THE ORIGINAL SHOT COMMISSIONED FROM TUCSON TO RE CREATE. OUR ENTIRE TEAM IS LED BY FORMER PRODUCING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR THEATRE OF PHOENIX MATTHEW WIENER.

JOSE: THAT IS A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THIS.

MARCELINO QUINOÑEZ: IT IS. WE ARE NOT SIMPLY IN DOING ONE PLAY AND PATTING OURSELVES ON THE BACK. WE ARE INTERESTED IN ESTABLISHING A STRUCTURE OF PROFESSIONAL THEATER THAT HAPPENS TO TELL LATINO STORIES. PHOENIX IS MADE UP OF 41% LATINOS SO THERE NEEDS TO BE A PLACE WERE LATINO STORIES ARE TOLD IN A PROFESSIONAL MANNER. HAVING MATTHEW WIENER WITH HIS EXPERTISE HAS BEEN A TRUE BLESSING. WE HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE BECAUSE HE HAS EXCELLENT TIMING AND STAGING. WE ARE VERY PLEASED WITH THE WORK MATTHEW HAS BEEN DOING TO LEAD OUR CAST.

JOSE: WE FLASHED THE DATES ON THE SCREEN BUT TELL US AGAIN WHEN AND WHERE IT IS RUNNING.

BENNY MOREL: AUGUST 26TH 28TH AT THE PHOENIX CENTER OF THE ARTS AND THIS WOULDN'T BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE COMMITTEE.


JOSE: WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO END THERE. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. THAT'S OUR SHOW TONIGHT. THANKS FOR WATCHING. FROM ALL OF US HERE AT HORIZONTE AND YOUR ARIZONA P B S STATION. I'M JOSE CARDENAS, HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.

Marcelino Quiñonez: Playwright and Actor, Benny Morel: Producer of the Play

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