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Familial fiction

Aunt’s story re-imagined in poignant ‘Tacna’



Carlos Castillo, La Senorita de Tacna, gay news, theater, Washington Blade
Carlos Castillo, La Senorita de Tacna, gay news, theater, Washington Blade

Carlos Castillo in ‘La Senorita de Tacna.’ (Photo by Lonnie Tague; courtesy Gala)

‘The Young Lady from Tacna’/ ‘La Señorita de Tacna’

Through March 9

Gala Hispanic Theatre

3333 14th Street, N.W., Columbia Heights



“The Young Lady from Tacna” is a play about creating stories. It’s also about memory, family and mystery-shrouded romance.

Ingeniously constructed by Peru’s Noble laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, the action follows a writer in search of a love story as he moves from his present to a place of memories to an even more distanced place, mostly imagined.

Seldom done in Washington, this poignant yet humorous work (performed in Spanish with English surtitles) is currently playing at GALA Hispanic Theatre in a superb production, adroitly staged by director José Carrasquillo,

Tucked away in his cluttered study (anywhere in the world, 1980), middle-aged writer Belisario struggles to make literature out of the failed great passion of Mamaé, his long-deceased great aunt who died a 100-year-old spinster. He wonders why as a young woman she abruptly ended her engagement to a dashing Chilean officer, opting instead to live her life as a poor but loved relation, dependent on her cousin Carmen’s family for the remainder of her long life. It’s a secret she never revealed.

In his struggle to recreate his aunt’s romance, Belisario relies on memories, time traveling from his study to his grandparents’ house in Lima circa 1950 where Mamaé, despite having already slipped into a screeching dementia, remains a strong force. The once-well off family’s resources are steadily diminishing and Belisario’s mother Amelia is caring for both Mamaé and her elderly parents. In exchange her brother pays her son’s law school tuition — a legal career for Belisario is her dream not his. It won’t happen.

The writer imagines his aunt young again. She springs from her rocking chair; tosses aside the lacey shawl. He sees his aunt with her avid suitor, relieving excitement and disappointment. He creates tales surrounding her cancelled nuptials including a meeting with her betrothed’s formidable mistress and builds stories from fragmented memories like her alleged attachment to an ivory fan and her preference to attend Mass at a modest church in a nearby slum.

Numerous quick changes in time and place are graceful and entirely lucid thanks mostly to talented gay director Carrasquillo. His staging is impeccable. He also elicits memorable performances from an able cast.

Carlos Castillo is terrific as Belisario. A graying and disheveled character is a departure for out actor Castillo who typically plays younger parts. But he gives a nuanced performance — some of his best work to date. As Mamaé, Luz Nicolás is a marvel, seamlessly changing from ancient termagant to proud ingénue and back again. Marian Licha’s Carmen is sure of her place in the world, exuding confidence and kindness. As her husband Pedro, the reliably excellent Hugo Medrano subtly demonstrates the lighter side of decline. His character is slipping into a gentler, sometimes amusing dotage.

Andrea Aranguren is wonderfully versatile as both the other woman and Belisario’s mother. Tim Pabon and Oscar Ceville are respectively convincing as Amelia’s brothers — the harried, responsible Agustin and the passionate but broke Cesar. The playwright creates (and the three players execute) the dynamic of caretaker siblings to the tee. And Victor Maldonado capably adds dimension to the role of the Disney prince-handsome officer.

Giorgos Tsappas’ sloped diagonal set provides a journey for memories turned into tales over times. At the top of the incline sits Mamaé’s rocking chair next to a large bare window. At the opposite lower end is Belisario’s cramped writing space. The back opens to the white trunks of Chekhovian Aspen trees evocatively lit by lighting designer Cory Ryan Frank.

The GALA production is a beautifully rendered take on a somewhat difficult play.


Out & About

DC Center to host Alzheimer’s awareness event

‘Seniors & Cognition’ talk to explore warning signs, healthy brain practices



The DC LGBTQ+ Community Center, the DC Department on Aging and Community Living, and the Alzheimer’s Association are joining forces to host “Seniors & Cognition with the Alzheimer’s Association” on Thursday, July 25 at 2 p.m. on Zoom. 

Guest speakers will walk the audience through understanding Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, their warning signs, healthy brain practices, and more. The lecture series will consist of three 1.5-hour sessions, with the others set to take place in August and September. 

To register, visit the DC Center’s website

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Brittney Griner and wife celebrate birth of their son

Cherelle Griner gave birth to healthy baby boy earlier this month



Brittney Griner (Screen capture via Instagram)

It’s a boy for Brittney and Cherelle Griner. The Phoenix Mercury center revealed the news in interviews with CBS Sports and NBC News. 

“Every minute I feel like he’s popping into my head, said Griner. “Literally everything revolves around him. And I love it.”

The couple officially welcomed the baby boy on July 8. He weighs 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

“That’s my man. He is amazing,” Griner told CBS Sports. “They said as soon as you see them, everything that you thought mattered just goes out the window. That’s literally what happened.” 

Griner, 33, corrected the CBS News correspondent who said, “You’re about to be a mom!” She told her Cherelle, 33, had already delivered the baby and that she preferred to be called,“Pops.” 

Griner told NBC News correspondent Liz Kreutz they chose to name their newborn son, “Bash.” 

The WNBA star said she is Bash’s biggest fan and is constantly taking photos of him. “My whole phone has turned into him now,” Griner told CBS Sports.

The baby comes as Griner gets set to play in Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game and then head to Paris with Team USA to compete for their 8th straight gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games. 

“It kind of sucks because I have to leave, but at the same time, he will understand,” said Griner. 

Her time in Paris will mark the first time since the basketball star was released from a Russian gulag, where she was held on drug charges for nearly 10 months in 2022.

“BG is locked in and ready to go,” Griner told NBC News on Friday. “I’m happy, I’m in a great place. I’m representing my country, the country that fought for me to come back. I’m gonna represent it well.”

Griner also spoke with NBC News about her hopes the U.S. can win the freedom of imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian maximum security prison on Friday. 

“We have to get him back,” she said. 

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Calendar: July 19-25

LGBTQ events in the days to come



Friday, July 19

“Center Aging Friday Tea Time” will be at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ+ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice. For more details, email [email protected].

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Happy Hour” at 7 p.m. at Puro Gusto. This event is ideal for making new friends, professional networking, idea-sharing, and community building. This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Saturday, July 20

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Community Brunch” at 11 a.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. This fun weekly event brings the DMV area LGBTQ+ community, including allies, together for delicious food and conversation. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

“LGBTQ People of Color Support Group” will be at 1 p.m. on Zoom. This peer support group is an outlet for LGBTQ People of Color to come together and talk about anything affecting them in a space that strives to be safe and judgment free. For more details, visit or

Sunday, July 21

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Dinner” at 6:30 p.m. at Federico Ristorante Italiano Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant. Guests are encouraged to come enjoy an evening of Italian-style dining and conversation with other LGBTQ+ folk. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

Go Gay DC will host “LGBTQ+ Funday Social and Games” at 3 p.m. at Moxy. This event is ideal for making meaningful new connections and informal community building, or just to unwind and enjoy the group happy hour. There will be Monopoly, chess, checkers, Jenga and many other games. Attendance is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

AfroCode DC will be at 4 p.m. at Decades DC. This event will be an experience of non-stop music, dancing, and good vibes and a crossover of genres and a fusion of cultures. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

Monday, July 22

Center Aging: Monday Coffee & Conversation will be at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a social hour for older LGBTQ adults. Guests are encouraged to bring a beverage of their choice. For more details, email [email protected].

“Queer Book Club” will be at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. The club meets on the fourth Monday of the month to discuss queer books by queer authors. This month’s read is yet to be announced. For more details, email [email protected].

Tuesday, July 23

Pride on the Patio Events will host “LGBTQ Social Mixer” at 5:30 p.m. at Showroom. Dress is casual, fancy, or comfortable. Guests are encouraged to bring their most authentic self to chat, laugh, and get a little crazy. Admission is free and more details are on Eventbrite.

Coming Out Discussion Group will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a peer-facilitated discussion group and a safe space to share experiences about coming out and discuss topics as it relates to doing so. For more details, visit the group’s Facebook page.

“Genderqueer DC” will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a support group for people who identify outside of the gender binary, whether you’re bigender, agender, genderfluid, or just know that you’re not 100% cis. For more details, email [email protected].

Wednesday, July 24

Job Club will be at 6 p.m. on Zoom. This is a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking — allowing participants to move away from being merely “applicants” toward being “candidates.” For more information, email [email protected] or visit

“Asexual and Aromantic Group” will meet at 7 p.m. on Zoom and in person at the DC Center for the LGBT Community. This is a space where people who are questioning this aspect of their identity or those who identify as asexual and/or aromantic can come together, share stories and experiences, and discuss various topics. For more details, email [email protected].

Thursday, July 25

Virtual Yoga with Charles M. will be at 7 p.m. on Zoom. This is a free weekly class focusing on yoga, breath work, and meditation. For more details, visit the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s website.

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