The Sonia Flew Staged Reading That You Missed Without Even Knowing

by:  Thom Dunn at 02/10/2014

Alex Senchak & Rumena Manolova

As many of you know, The Hunt is the Huntington's new young donor patron for 35 Below audience members who want to deepen their connection to the theatre. The goal for the year is to raise $10,000 to become the collective Scenic Designer Sponsor for Becoming Cuba, and while we're nearly 75% of the way, we realized that we overlooked one important detail: most members of The Hunt had never seen Sonia Flew, the another Cuba-inspired play by Melinda Lopez which was also the inaugural production at the Calderwood Pavilion in 2004.

Unfortunately, the Scene Shop had dismantled the Official Huntington Time Machine to salvage spare parts for the tablesaw again, so we weren't able to bring The Hunt members back in time to see the play. But we did the next best thing instead! Alex Senchak and Rumena Manolova were gracious enough to welcome The Hunt into their home, where the group took part in an informal "staged" reading of Sonia Flew along with Becoming Cuba director M. Bevin O'Gara, Development Associate Catherine Halpin, and myself. Everyone had their own copy of the script, and Bevin randomly assigned speaking roles to everyone in the room, regardless of the embarrassing quality of my Cuban accent. (I mean their Cuban accents. Not mine. Definitely not mine) The Senchak-Manolovas were excellent hosts, treating us to all kinds of delicious snacks and wine. Hunt member Rob Caplis cooked up a massive batch of chili, although the real secret weapon of the evening came in the form of Catherine Halpin's unassuming bacon-broccoli-cheese dip which might be my new favorite thing in the world. No offense to Rumena's tasty bruschetta, which was a close second. 

Amelia Alvarez & Ivan Quintanilla in the world premiere production of Melinda Lopez's Sonia Flew (2004) at the Huntington, directed by Nicholas Martin. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Most Hunt members had already attended one of our previous staged readings of Becoming Cuba, so they were at least somewhat familiar with the play (again, our time machine was out of order, so "time travel into the future to watch a play that hasn't happened" is sadly not one a membership perk). Still, this knowledge helped to inform an impassioned conversation after the Sonia Flew reading. While the plays are certainly different — Becoming Cuba is set at the turn of the 20th Century, on the eve of the Cuban Revolution, and Sonia Flew is set in 2001 and 1961 — the group took note of some interesting similarities between the plays, especially in terms of theatrical style and the silently-strong but internally-conflicted women at the center of both stories.

It might be the bacon-broccoli-cheese dip talking, but I thought it was a unique and fun way to spend a Sunday evening among old friends and new, all similarly like-minded people who share a passion for theatre. We'd hardly finished our conversation about the script before people started throwing out ideas for our next play reading (tentatively scheduled for May, FYI). While Hunt Membership comes all kinds of great perks, it's these extra little opportunities that really make for the special secret icing on the cake metaphor. The only way to get your name on the invite list — or to even know these things are happening ahead of time! — is to join The Hunt. We're 3/4 of the way to our goal with just two months to go, and membership starts as low as $6.50 a month (or $75 a year). It's a small price to pay for insider access  — and, oh yeah, for helping to bring world-class theatre to the stage.



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About me

Thom Dunn is the Web & New Media Manager at the Huntington, meaning it's his job to play around on the Internet and make things cool. He handles all of the video content and social media as well, and has the biggest computer monitor in the office. Like, ginormous.

Outside of the Huntington, Thom is a writer, musician, and homebrewer. It's all pretty cool. You can find out more about it at

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