Dmae talks features CoHo Productions‘ season opener Mala by Melinda Lopez. She talks with co-producers Anna Nicholas and Brian Shnipper who is also director and Julana Torres who performs the title role of Mala in this solo play about a Cuban American daughter taking care of her dying mother while still trying to maintain her career. The show opens Sept. 6-28 at CoHo.

(Aired 11am 8/27/19 on KBOO 90.7 FM or always on and always on  iTunes.)

Julanna Torres
Julana Torres. Photo: Anna Nicholas

More about the play: Mala is a first generation Cuban American caring for her dying mother. She zig-zags between her own family and career, urgent 911 calls, multiple doctors, her mother’s growing frailty, and a bone-chilling Boston winter. The first production in CoHo’s 24th Season, this unsentimental, irreverent one-woman show features the luminous Julana Torres as Mala, and brims with humor, frustration and honesty about the end of life. Melinda Lopez’s play is especially resonant in Oregon where the Death with Dignity Act passed in 1994, and the Portland-based Death with Dignity National Center remains as an advocate for nationwide improvements in end-of-life care. At a time when Gen Xers and Millennials are becoming responsible for their aging parents, Boomers are faced with the prospect of giving up their independence, and immigrant families often struggle to find culturally and linguistically-sensitive healthcare, Mala creates space to laugh, grieve, reflect, and experience the inevitable together.

CoHo Productions presents…
MALA by Melinda Lopez

September 6 – 28, 2019
Thurs-Sat at 7;30pm and Sundays at 2pm

COHO PRODUCTIONS 2257 NW RALEIGH ST, PORTLAND, OR  For reservations and more info: 503) 220 – 2646. WWW.COHOPRODUCTIONS.ORG



FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 6: Opening Night, 7:30pm (Reception in the lobby following the show)

SEPTEMBER 12, 19 & 26: Thrifty Thursdays – Adult Admission just $25

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 15: Post Matinee Discussion – Growing Old With Grace and Dignity: A Discussion About Life Choices and the Dignity Act

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 19: Post Show Discussion – Taking Care of Yourself as You Care for an Aging Parent (or Loved One)

About the Playwright: Melinda Lopez is the play­wright-in-residence at the Huntington Theatre Company. Mala (Arts Emerson, 2016) won the 2016 Elliot Norton Award for Best New Play, and ran at the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis (Oct. 2017) and Huntington Theatre Company, Boston (January 2018). Upcoming projects include a translation of Yerma (Lorca) at The Huntington Theatre, June 2019. Her award-winning play Sonia Flew (Elliot Norton Award, IRNE Award) has been produced all over the country including: Huntington Theatre Company, Steppenwolf, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Contemporary American Theater Festival, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and many others. Other plays include Becoming Cuba, (Huntington Theatre Company,) Back the Night, (Boston Playwrights Theatre,) Caroline in Jersey (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Orchids to Octopi (Central Square Theater, commissioned by the National Institutes of Health for the Darwin bicentennial), Gary (Steppenwolf First Look Repertory, BPT), Alexandros (Laguna Playhouse), Midnight Sandwich/Medianoche (Elliot Norton Award Outstanding Solo Performance, Coconut Grove Playhouse), and multiple short plays. Ms. Lopez is among the first cohort of playwrights to receive a three-year residency grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and she was the first recip­ient of the Charlotte Woolard Award, given by The Kennedy Center to a “promising new voice in American theatre.” She is active in the local Cuban American community and works to provide humanitarian aid the the people of Cuba.  (

Julana Torres (Mala) is a Portland local with an extensive career in dance, music, and theatre. She has recently returned to the stage after a long hiatus of teaching with Portland Public Schools where she established the full time dance program for Franklin High School. Since returning, she has been seen in Crowns (Portland Playhouse), Cop Out (Red Door Project) Between Riverside and Crazy (Artist Repertory) Water by the Spoonful (Profile Theatre), 26 Miles (Profile Theatre), Óye Oyá (Milagro Theatre), and Cuba Libre (Artist Repertory). In 2017 she received a Drammy nomination for Best Actress in a Play for her work in Water by the Spoonful. She recently completed the feature film Losing Addison starring Sherilyn Fenn, and can also be seen performing as the lead singer for popular Latin Jazz orchestra The Bobby Torres Ensemble.

Brian Shnipper (Co-Producer & Director) conceived and directed the world premiere of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays (Los Angeles Drama Critics Award) at the Coronet Theatre. It has since been performed in over 100 theatres around the world, including the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York, ACT in San Francisco, La Jolla Playhouse, Trinity Rep and Syracuse Stage, featuring actors such as Debra Messing, Zachary Quinto, Alfre Woodard, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Matthew Broderick, Kathy Najimi and Amy Brenneman. Off Broadway: Standing on Ceremony (New York Theatre Workshop) the world premiere of Will Scheffer’s Alien Boy (OOBR Award), Lubna and Family Commitment (EST). Regional credits include A View of the Mountains (Pasadena Playhouse), US premiere of Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers, Red, Opus and Bell, Book and Candle (Ensemble Theatre Company), Miracle on South Division Street, The Road to Appomattox (Colony Theatre), ICU starring Caroline Aaron (Circle X Theatre Co.), Voice of Good Hope about the life of Barbara Jordan starring Frankie Faison (Luna Stage – Star Ledger’s pick for the Year’s 10 Best).

Anna Nicholas (Co-Producer) recently returned to Portland after 20 years in NY and LA, and work that includes writing, acting, producing and directing. Produced plays include Petting Zoo Story (Primary Stages & NY Shorts Festival), VillaThrilla; Our Dark Connection, The Elegant Dinner, Searching for Mary Jane (commissioned for The Odyssey Theatre, LA Weekly Theatre Award nominee); Lu/Lou (Dorothy Lyman), The Beaver Suite (Friends and Artists Theatre & Metropolitan Stage, NYC) and Buddha Belly. Incunabula was performed and recorded for radio by LA Theatre Works (available on Audible) and is being developed as a musical. She is the winner of Playfest (2019) and Caltech’s science play prize (2018), as well as runner-up for The Dennis & Victoria Ross Foundation, Sundance Theatre Lab, Ebell, Susan Glaspell Prize, Route 66 (Chicago), Centenary Stages (New Jersey), and the Lila Acheson Wallace fellowship.