Ernesto Concepción and Yaiza Figueroa in La casa de la laguna
Ernesto Concepción and Yaiza Figueroa in La casa de la laguna; Photo by Daniel Martínez

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La casa de la laguna at GALA Hispanic Theatre

In Puerto Rico, the question of status—territory? statehood? independence?—has been central to politics for so long that it has become almost background noise for many Puerto Ricans simply going about their lives, both on the island and the mainland. Then came two disasters, one natural and one artificial: Hurricane Maria, a catastrophe that was given far too little attention in U.S. media despite killing more Americans than 9/11, and a federal control board imposed by Congress, known there simply as La Junta, which took away the island’s financial independence and implemented crippling austerity to pay back debts. For many Puerto Ricans, the conclusion was something once voiced mostly in radical circles, now mainstream: Puerto Rico really is a colony. Author and academic Rosario Ferré, whose father was Puerto Rico’s governor from the pro-statehood party, had a front row seat to these debates, and it bleeds into her work, including La casa de la laguna (The House on the Lagoon), her acclaimed 1995 novel about a family whose multi-generational conflicts overlap with those of Puerto Rico. Prolific playwright Caridad Svich has adapted the book into a new show debuting at GALA Theatre, with an all-Boricua cast. It’s a tale of inequality, patriarchy, and, yes, colonialism—something Washingtonians should appreciate. La casa de la laguna runs through Feb. 27 at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW. galatheatre.org. $25–$48.