Of all the horrific dictators ever to plague Latin America, Rafael Trujillo was arguably one of the worst. Whether as president or behind-the-scenes military strongman, he ruled the Dominican Republic for 31 years with an iron hand. Civil liberties effectively ceased to exist. His personal hit squad roamed the capital, Santo Domingo – renamed Ciudád Trujillo during his reign – in a red Packard nicknamed the “car of death,” carro de la muerte. A national network of procurers rounded up preteen girls for him to rape. Within one week in 1937, he had his army butcher between 20,000 and 30,000 Haitians in a border incursion known as the Parsley Massacre.
So heavily did he clamp down on any opposition that it took a major scandal to inspire the plot that finally led to Trujillo’s assassination in 1961 (possibly with an assist from the CIA). That scandal was the abduction and brutal murder of three young women: the Mirabal sisters, known by the code name the Butterflies amongst the resistance.
The story of the Mirabal sisters (shown above) has inspired countless works of art in the years since their deaths – the anniversary of which, November 25, has been designated by the United Nations as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. One such account is Julia Álvarez’s 1994 novel In the Time of the Butterflies. In 2001 it was made into a movie starring Salma Hayek, and now there’s also a stage adaptation by Caridad Svich. That stage version will be the first offering of the 2019/20 season of live productions by the Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY-New Paltz. This fictionalized version of the true story of the Mirabal sisters, who galvanized a political uprising against Trujillo’s dictatorial rule, is directed by Estefania Fadul.
The SUNY production of In the Time of the Butterflies runs from Thursday through Sunday, October 3 to 6 and October 17 to 20 (skipping over Columbus Day weekend, when college is not in session). Tickets cost $18 general admission, $16 for faculty/staff, alumni and seniors and $10 for students. They can be purchased online, in person at the Parker Theatre box office, by phone at (845) 257-3880 or online at www.newpaltz.edu/theatre/productions/mainstage. Discounted tickets will also be available for the full Mainstage season, which will continue in mid-November with Shakespeare’s Henry V.
In the Time of the Butterflies
Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 3-6, Oct. 17-20, 8 p.m./2 p.m., $18/$16/$10
McKenna Theatre, SUNY-New Paltz