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'Mala' shares one women’s journey taking care of her aging mother

How would you react if you are taking care of your dying parent and they keep calling you Mala, the Spanish term for bad? Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presented a one-woman play by Melinda Lopez and starring Milwaukee’s Rána Roman retelling one women’s journey taking care of her aging mother. 

“Mala is also the name of the title character,” said Roman. “She goes through and voices all of the people that in one way or another are involved in this process with her. This is the part that I love the most because she found comfort in friends who had already been through.”

Rána Roman in "Mala" | Courtesy of Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Our very own Kenny Perez spoke with Roman in a candid interview. Read it below.

“Mala” hit me and my wife. Exactly everything that you portrayed on the stage is happening in real time in my life. It was beautiful by the way. But the things that are happening currently and what my mom had to raise me to understand is that we take care of our elders. Has that experience on the stage opened your eyes up to the future?

Yeah, it has. Not that it's selfish, but in this selfish way, I don't have kids. My partner does, but they also have a mother and a father. Who's going to take care of me? That has been a thing that I've never really thought about before doing this play. But watching the unconditional love that it takes to be someone's caretaker, who's going to do that for me?

What was the biggest takeaway with “Mala?”

Someone made a beautiful realization that I had not considered at all that everyone in the audience can relate to because everyone in the audience may have been any one of the people that are in the story, not just the mom, not just Mala, they might be the sister or they might be the doctor, or they might be the friend that consoles or they might be the hospice nurse. There was an usher that's a hospice nurse that said, “I am bringing all my hospice nurses to see this, because this is exactly what it is like.”

Or they can be Abuela.

Or they can be Abuela.

Because when I went to see the play, the age range went from teenager to 80-years-old. I was wondering if they thought, where’s my kid taking care of me or I have someone taking care of me. For me, the most striking part was obviously the ending and the song that was used. I Shazammed it and I had to find the song. It’s a beautiful song that was used in the play.

That was the sound designer, Josh Schmidt, somehow nailing that emotion. But I will fully admit when I see really elderly people in the audience, I worry very much about offending or hitting too close to home. We want the theater to be cathartic. We want it to be healing. We want, we want you to feel seen and heard and represented.

The Milwaukee Chamber Theatre is preparing for its 2022-2023 season and will have an announcement eventon March 25 featuring a performance by Klassik.

Audio Storyteller / 88Nine On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee