Sex, saints & gazpacho in new play
Begonya Plaza's "Teresa's Ecstasy" is at the Cherry Lane Theater
By Erasmo Guerra / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Actress and playwright Begonya Plaza wrote a one-woman show about the revered Spanish nun Saint Teresa of
Avila and gave it to an actor friend to read. “There’s no conflict here,” he told her about the piece.
“I can’t find any,” Plaza said. “She’s perfect.”
But afterward Plaza phoned her estranged husband in Barcelona and told him that she was on her way there to
research the mystic nun. She heard the disparaging sounds he made about St. Teresa and found her inspiration:
“He’s my conflict.”
“So when I went to Barcelona, I listened to him, provoked him,” says the Colombian-born Plaza, 45, who lives in
Chelsea. “When I came back I had another script.”
Though it’s by no means a direct transcript of her trip, elements of Plaza’s personal story and her now ex-husband
served as an admitted model for “Teresa’s Ecstasy,” a sumptuous three-person comic drama about sex, love and
spirituality onstage at the Cherry Lane Theatre.
Directed by Will Pomerantz and running until April 1, the play centers around Carlotta, played by Plaza, who travels
to Barcelona to write a magazine article on St. Teresa, who was canonized in 1622.
Carlotta is also in Barcelona to deliver divorce papers to her husband Andres. Only the airline has lost her luggage,
where the documents are stashed. Adding to the tensions in the otherwise airy loft where Andres lives is Carlotta’s
editor, Becky, who has come along for the trip. Most of the play occurs in a single, languid, boozy afternoon. Over
chilled white wine and serrano ham and goat cheese, the couple’s regrets over never talking about “difficult things”
and old secrets, like the aftermath of an unplanned pregnancy, find voice amid the awkward silences and the growl
of the blender as they make gazpacho.
They also manage to debate whether St. Teresa’s writings about ecstasies were indeed spiritual or sexual. Carlotta
swoons over the nun’s passion in the face of the repressive, imperial time she endured. Andres refers to her as the
As Andres, Shawn Elliott, an HOLA Award-winning Puerto Rican actor, gives a stunning performance. His gruff
manner and macho bravado hide the insecurities lurking within. Linda Larkin sparkles as the ditsy, sequined and
Of course none of these characters would’ve been possible without the terrific script. Plaza says she wanted to fill
her story with religious history, Spanish culture (her father hailed from the Basque region and she spent time there
as a child), but most of all love. “Otherwise why are we here?” she says. “That’s what really interested me.”