Dreams of a Sunday Afternoon
drama in four acts
by Maritza Núñez
The play is mainly set in Diego and Frida's house in Mexico City between 1939 and 1940. One of the main themes is power; the power within relationships, friendships, art and politics. There are discussions on the nature of art, on the relationship between the latter and revolution, on the revolution in Russia and those elsewhere, on the role of Stalin, on the Spanish Civil War, on the rise of Hitler and the start of World War Two and on the Mexican Revolution of the nineteen twenties.
Frida and Diego's love bond is strong and passionate, stormy and full of mutual infidelities. Their relationship as artists is highly complex.
The play, suffused with a dreamlike quality, is a blend of the real and the unreal, the surreal and the poetic; nor is a certain degree of humour absent.
The title of the work— Dreams of a Sunday Afternoon — refers to a famous mural by Diego Rivera, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park .
List of Characters
Frida Kahlo — famous Mexican painter.
The Other Frida —alter ego. Her presence conjures up the image of Frida's painting The Two.Fridas .
Diego Rivera — Frida's husband, a famous Mexican painter. One of the founders of Mexico 's muralist movement, one of the most significant plastic art movements of Latin America . He was a rebel active member of Mexico 's Communist Party which he left and rejoined on various occasions. He and Frida entertained the Trotskys at their home in Mexico .
David Alfaro Siqueiros — Famous Mexican painter, one of the founders of the muralist movement. He was a disciplined member of the Mexican Communist Party. He led and attempt on Trotsky's life.'
Liev Davidovich Trotsky — One of the leaders of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia . After Stalin came to power Trotsky was exiled. He was assassinated in Mexico by the Spaniard Ram6n Mercader who was acting under the orders of Stalin. He was involved in an amorous liaison with Frida.
Natalia Trotsky — wife of Liev D.
Tina Modotti — renowned Italian photographer, worked for many years in the USA and Mexico . Was an agent for the Soviet Secret Service. Took part in the Spanish Civil War. Whilst in Mexico , she was the lover of Juan Antonio Mella, the founder of the Cuban Communist Party. She died in Mexico in mysterious circumstances.
André Breton — French writer and intellectual. A theorist on surrealism.
Jacqueline Breton — André's wife
Cristina Kahlo — Frida's sister, was Diego's lover.
María — Frida's domestic help.
Lupe Marín — Diego Rivera's ex-wife
La Catrina— Mexican mythological character, a skeleton dressed up in the costume of an elegant lady.
Her , Police Officer , Him .
Father of Frida
Child Lucia '
Play for 11 actors. Eight actors take on only one role.
One actress can play Jacqueline, Cristina and the bride.
One actress can play Maria, Lupe, Her and La Catrina..
One actor can play the Father, the Police Oficer and Him.
In an atmosphere of unreality, child Frida and her father meditate on the nature of colour and the country Lunassy. This kingdom, hitherto peaceful, changes upon the arrival of King Toad (a term of endearment used by Frida for Diego).
Frida's house. 1939, on the eve of her trip to Paris
Cristina poses as an artist's model for Diego. They are having an affair.
Frida arrives with the news that she is pregnant. She discovers that her sister and Diego are lovers. They argue, she throws Diego out.
Reminiscences of Diego and Frida's wedding day. Father, "I told you , Diego, I tould you. My daughter is a devil." Lupe. " Diego traded me in for these legs."
Frida recalls painful memories of her past. She defines herself as disintegration personified.
Frida paints A Few Little Pricks. The Other Frida appears and questions Frida's painting and her relationship with Diego.
Frida dreams. She sees herself alone, worries that she will never reach Paris . She imagines that Jacqueline Breton is with her; to her she confides her fears of solitude and death.
Maria washes Frida and bathes her feet, drying them with her hair. Evocation of a biblical scene.
Diego comes in and gives Frida a paper Judas,* Frida expresses her jealousy of Cristina. Left alone, she sleeps.
Diego, in the character of Bacchus, cracks his whip and forces the Other Frida to jump over a fence.
The bride, in a tattered dress wanders in singing a lullaby. She hands Frida a baby made, out of flowers which Frida hugs and suffocates.
María wakes Frida and gives her the bouquet which Diego was holding in scene IX. A Song of Death plays. They dance.
Cristina apologises to Frida.
The Trotskys and Tina arrive. They are collecting articles for charity, to help the victims of the Spanish Civil War. They talk of Tina's experiences at the front. She took no photographs there as she did not wish to feel as if she were an accomplice to the atrocities of war.
Diego serenades Frida.
Frida's house after her return from Paris . August 1939. The friends are gathered together to celebrate her return.
Diego reads the newspaper. Cárdenas Mexico 's president has implemented some progressive policies but many enemies and anti-Trotskyans wish to bring about his downfall notwithstanding. They do not understand his gesture of solidarity in welcoming Trotsky. The president calls upon the working classes to support his government.
Frida talks about her exhibition in Paris . She denies that she is a surrealist.
They discuss the rise of Hitler and his agreements with Stalin. They also refer to the divisions at the front -provoked by Stalinist groups- which are indirectly aiding Franco's Cause.
Tina parodies Hitler by performing a mock German cabaret in the style of the nineteen twenties. I
News Bulletin. A group of students has obliterated the phrase "God does not exist" from one of Diego's murals. They all go with Diego to repaint it.
Trotsky confesses his attraction to Frida and kisses her.
A satire on love.
The party continues. '
Discussion of the Mexican Revolution and the muralist movement.
They recall that Rockefeller also destroyed one of Diego's murals. Discussion as to the legitimacy or otherwise of a revolutionary artist being financed by a capitalist.
The phone rings. Somebody hangs up. They fear that Stalin may be plotting mischief against Trotsky.
Discussion on art revolution and freedom. They condemn the deaths of Meyerhold,Maiakovski and Esenin.
Breton defends the place of love in revolution.
Diego delivers a monologue personifying Stalin.
Frida reads Trotsky a love letter he once wrote to Natalia.
Tina and Frida dance together in a provocative manner.
David, "If I have to kill to defend my ideas, I will not hesitate for one instant"
Monologue on the Revolution delivered by Frida.
Trotsky's ideological creed espoused.
Preparations are under way for a festive dinner.
Tina confesses to Frida her fear that she is being followed.
Diego and Frida argue about the value of their respective works.
Diego and his friends crucify Frida. The women kneel. Tableau reminiscent of the Crucifixion.
Frida and Diego hive separated. Frida paints The Two Fridas . Tina-Puppet and the Man-Puppet act out Tina's death.
20 August 1940 At the Trotskys.
Natalia and Trotsky chat. The latter has had a prophetic dream. A shadow appears. It approaches Trotsky.
María:“They killed Trotsky!”
Simultaneous scenes take place, time and space undefined. Breton, an the one hand, rambles on in a world of his own. On the other, Siqueiros and Trotsky are following a horse race. Fuel of wordplay and double entendres .
At the police station. Official questioning in the aftermath of Trotsky's assassination.
Simultaneous scenes, as in scene IV. Breton on the one hand. Siqueiros and Trotsky discuss the Fourth International.
At the police station. Police questioning. Frida and Diego deny they had a relationship with Trotsky.
Frida and Diego are reconciled.
Natalia talks to Frida. She forgives her.
An altar of the dead.- Trotsky "returns" to visit Frida..
Diego and Frida's wedding. Reconstruction of the central detail from the painting Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park .
Frida and the Other Frida. Brief dialogue between two flowers.
* A paper Judas is a papier-maché figure burnt on Mexican bonfires at Eastertide.
**A model of the Altar of the Dead is displayed in many Mexican homes on All Saints' Day. In some ways it is the antithesis of the Nativity scene and contains skulls, etc. It also contains photographs of the dead and sweetmeats; ii is almost as though the inhabitants of the house are calling upon their dead to revisit them.
Some commentaries made by Finnish theatre personalities regarding Dreams of a Sunday Afternoon. .
— “An impressive stream flows throughout the whole work. Within it, in a natural and coherent manner the poetic, the unreal, the surreal and the symbolic are blended.”
— “A fine, sensitive and intense work. A beautiful love story.”
— “The author, using a daring combination of atmospheres and styles, shows that the spiritual and the physical can make up a fascinating whole.”
— “A world of great sensuality. A rich and attractive proposition for any director due to the complexity and diversity of the themes portrayed.”
— “ A simply fascinating work.”
— “A great work.”
The California Repertory Theater: “A masterpiece of contemporary theater” (2004)