‘My Mañana Comes’ brings the struggles of restaurant workers to the theater

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(Pictured: Lawrence Stallings and Peter Pasco Photo by Ed Krieger)

Immigration. The minimum wage. They’re issues you read and hear about in the news all the time. But it can be easy to lose sight of the people behind those headlines. Those people and the challenges they face are the focus of a new play at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood. It’s called “My Mañana Comes.” It’s about a group of bus boys—one African-American, three Latinos–who work at a restaurant in New York—scrambling to make enough money for themselves and their families to get by.

KCRW spoke with Armando Molina who is directing the play at… He said the play is about what’s happening in America. “It’s a study of people who are at the edge economically at the edge of the margins of society. They’re bearing the full brunt of the difficulties that are connected to seeking the American dream and what all of that entails,” he said.

“It’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ without the upstairs. It’s the price people pay to serve the people who are with means to hopefully make people with means appreciate the people who serve them. So when you go to a restaurant you’ll see, consider, who’s putting the food on the table and who’s cleaning the tables and who’s making your life lovely and beautiful as you eat your fabulous dinner. I think it should do that the very least.”

Was it a conscious decision on the part of the company to produce this play now. In an election year or was it just sort of an interesting coincidence?

An interesting coincidence, but I can’t speak for the producers because I’m a guest director on this project. But it’s relevant any time. It’s really apropos that that the play’s being done now because often people forget about the human element here which is real people three dimensional people struggling. When people talk about issues they don’t talk about people they talk about giant complex concepts. That have nothing to do with humans.

This play is set in New York. There are three Latinos, and an African-American, it’s written by an anglo woman from Massachusetts. Does it ring true to you?

She’s a white woman from Massachusetts, as you say, and I find it extraordinary, her ear is sharper than sharp. Often playwrights have a difficulty or it’s challenging for them to capture the voice of a character. And I really admire that in Ms. Irwin’s writing. She has captured the specifics of that world, the milieu. And each one has particular backstory and she’s got it all down. She got the restaurant world down, she has a great ear to capture the personal and the political. You’re not hit over the head with it. You get it by the circumstances of the play – what they’re struggling for and about.

This is being performed at the Fountain Theatre for two months. On Mondays you have a ‘pay as much as you can’ policy how does that work?

The idea behind that is to let people who don’t have the means to see theater, because it’s an expensive proposition, to come and enjoy this play. That’s their policy throughout. I think it’s a marvelous thing.

My Mañana Comes opens Saturday at the Fountain Theatre.