'El Payaso' performance educated audience on activist and scientist Ben Linder

Teatro Milagro conducts a Q&A for "El Payaso" a bilingual play, at the Student Union Ballroom on Thursday, March 30, 2017. (Mustafe Mussa/The Daily Campus)

“What is your cause?” asked Danielle Pecoff at the end of Teatro Milagro’s performance of “El Payaso.” The Portland, Oregon, based theater troupe preformed their original play in the Student Union this Thursday as a part of their national tour across the United States.

“El Payaso” is a highly educational play that told the story of Ben Linder. Ben Linder, played by Ajai Terrazas Tripathi, was an American engineer in the 1980’s who traveled to Nicaragua in support of the Sandinista government. He was an avid activist and scientist, bringing electricity and healthcare to Nicaragua.

Linder’s story was told through the eyes of Elías, played by Marlon Jiménez Oviedo, a college student in modern day Latin America who had won a scholarship for his report on Ben Linder. The scholarship won by Elías gave him the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua, where he was thrown back in time into Ben Linder’s story.

“El Payaso” ended on a political note, with actors holding up signs for contemporary political causes. The political commentary was particularly impactful, especially in today’s political climate.

The play was acted out on a small stage with few props, the most notable of these props being small noise making objects. The actors would constantly make noises with several of the small objects, which felt reminiscent to a radio drama. This was a nice touch, as it created an interesting juxtaposition between the dark events of the play and the silly noises of the actors.

Although the acting and minimalistic set were good, there were parts of the play that felt disjointed. Every once in a while, the events of the play would halt as the actors acted out a scene that was related to the story, but many of these scenes felt out of place. There were times these scenes made the show harder to follow, which detracted from the overall experience of the show.

Fourth-semester accounting major, Dan Albano, shared a similar sentiment, “I thought the acting was very good, I thought it was very professional. They definitely brought a lot of excitement to the play. It was kind of hard to follow the objective they were trying to get across, at least for me.”

“El Payaso” was written by Emilio Rodriguez and directed by Georgina Escobar. It was written and performed in English and Spanish, which added an interesting layer to the play. Even for those in attendance who could only speak one of the languages, the play was still easy to follow.

“I thought it was a really inspirational play, at the very least, it was definitely educational,” said fourth semester accounting major Melissa Allen.

“Personally, I would have benefitted more if I knew more Spanish, but regardless of that, it was still pretty understandable and interesting to watch.”

After the show, the actors held a question and answer session with the audience. The troupe provided more historical background and was sure to mention several resources for those in attendance who wanted to know more about the story of Ben Linder.

The members of “Teatro Milagro” will continue their tour across the U.S. through Nov. 2017.


Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lauren.brown@uconn.edu.