Linda Felice, originally from New York, taught English for 35 years, during which she estimates she directed more than 50 school plays. She moved to Pacific Grove in 2013 where she picked up her dormant passion for acting, landing local gigs as Mother Superior in Nunsense and Grandma Berthe in Pippin.

She’s due to direct again, this time Paper Wing Theatre’s production of Boxcar (El Vagon).

“I saw it in Texas many years ago,” Felice says. “It’s been haunting me, given the current political climate.”

It’s written by playwright Silvia Gonzalez S., based on true events of a human smuggling operation in the 1980s that turned tragic when a group of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico became stranded in a train boxcar in the desert.

Gonzales recounts how she first encountered the story on cable news: “Tears flowed as I wrote about the men in the boxcar. Their dreams. Their desires. Their sad stories. What compels them to risk even their life. The trust they have in a coyote (human smuggler) to get them across safely. The money they invest to improve their lives. And yet, after the report, the newscaster went on to another story, smiling. And that affected me.”

For the play, the boxcar is being built out for the set, sparse sounds and song will accompany the dialogue – which is in English with Spanish interspersed – and there will be Q&A discussions after each performance (Gonzalez will speak after the April 6 show).

Felice says the actors, who are Latino and Anglo, are fully committed to their roles. It sounds like a story that inspires that in those it touches.

Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

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