Ella y Yo
Written by, directed by and starring Gilda Mercado
Review by Jen Bush
Gilda Mercado is a globe trotting Mexican renaissance woman with international acting credentials. In Ella y Yo, her eyes will bore into your soul as she dissects her own soul.
Ella y Yo is a wildly provocative solo piece that is not for the faint of heart or the fragile of emotions. You will be captivated and disturbed. You will want to look away at times. Don’t look away because the message embedded in the piece is vital. In society before a hello can leave our lips, we are judged, scrutinized and pigeonholed in an instant. The main character in Ella y Yo grapples with that and much more through themes of insecurity, vulnerability, self-examination, and ultimately self-acceptance.
The piece begins with a television at the top of a staircase. It turns on and we see a beautiful woman dressed like the acclaimed artist Frida Kahlo. It’s shot in black and white and is eerily atmospheric as sultry smoke escapes from the woman’s mouth in slow motion. It doesn’t stay beautiful for long so hold on tight and prepare for a disorienting theme park ride through the brain of a mentally anguished woman. Through beautiful, jarring, and surreal visuals, text, graceful dance, disjointed movements and music, we have a front row seat to schizophrenia. The film technique was reminiscent of German expressionism. The character speaks in English as well as Spanish with subtitles. As the main character smokes, moves and dances she questions her sanity, talks about how women are viewed and wonders about her self-worth. In fact, one of the most resonating lines in the piece was, “My self-worth depends on others.” That will stop you in your tracks and make you think long and hard about how you perceive your self-worth.
Not all art is pretty and wrapped up in a cute little bow. The viewer is at the mercy of the creator as the recipient of the message that the artist wishes to convey. In 9 minutes you’ll squirm, you’ll smile, you’ll empathize and sympathize, you’ll relate and your thoughts will be provoked to the outer limits. Ms. Mercado did a tremendous job of helming and executing every aspect of this performance. Ella y Yo may have a particular appeal for women and anybody struggling with self-acceptance. You’ll be thrown off your axis and challenged to think about uncomfortable subject matter. This piece of art did its job.