By Marcina Zaccaria
Dacyl Acevedo’s “Will Work For,” a soloNova ARTS production, is smart and articulate in every way.
The play features long monologues juxtaposed with movement sequences and clown work. As the main character’s unemployment cycle becomes perpetuating, she faces the alarming possibility of applying for welfare. As she describes every job she’s ever had from being a caterer, temp administrator, box office manager, actress, executive assistant, census worker, she asks how it is possible that she is facing the worst. A woman of pride and undeterred by circumstance, she continues forward.
Acevedo is a skilled performance artist. As she faces the demons of her employment past, she is always connecting to the audience and defining who she is in relationship to them. With formidable skills in mime and a bright red, clown nose, she strolls across the stage embodying the roles of the job counselor and the unemployed person. While kindly presenting a flower to the audience or jamming out in a dance hall, her warm sentiment is undercut with harsh lows and desperation. She performs in a scene from a resume review and a group share at the HRA. She embodies jobseekers from every ethnicity. Acevedo’s monologues, inspired by Langston Hughes poetry, comment on what it is like to see work only at a far distance.
A careful design team greatly supports Acevedo’s performance, as the play makes smart comments on the failing economy of 2008 and the hope for the future between 2009– 2013. Acevedo’s team presents speeches from President Barack Obama as he describes new work policies for Americans struggling with unemployment. It presents unexpected dichotomies. Signs on the video projection screen behind Acevedo say things like “no need to apply for work if you are unemployed.” The entire play, though, is less a political saga and more a critical look at unemployment from every angle. Through it, Acevedo’s soulful voice is always heard.
“Will Work For” part of the Terra Nova Collective at the IRT Theater at 154 Christopher Street www.terraNOVA collective.org.