This coming-of-age play follows Lena, a 12-year-old tomboy who, following her parents’ divorce, has been sent to live with her strict, superstitious grandmother in the mountains of Puerto Rico. She spends her days playing basketball with the local kids and unraveling the mystery of the poisoned mango tree on her grandmother’s property. As Lena uncovers clues to the decades-old local myth, she comes to realize the truth cuts deeper than she could ever know. Featuring an entirely Latino cast, Under The Mango Tree employs magical realism to expertly explore family, history, and adolescence.
Under the Mango Tree is a coming of age story for both a young girl and her grandmother. Lena Ramirez is a 12 year-old girl of Puerto Rican descent, born and raised in New York City. Her parents have just divorced. As a result Lena has started to ‘act-up’. She naturally doesn’t want her parents to divorce – she is especially close to her father who brought sports into her life. Lena loves basketball and plays for her middle school team. She was selected for a special basketball camp sponsored by the WNBA but her parents have decided to send her to Puerto Rico while they work out their differences further frustrating Lena.
Lena is sent to live with her grandmother, Fela, who is extremely stern. Lena is a fighter and is very strong-willed much like her grandmother, in fact Lena could be a 12 year-old Fela. Fela lives by herself in a house on the top of a mountain in a very beautiful but isolated place. She has only two daughters: Lena’s mother lives in New York and her other daughter lives near her in Puerto Rico with her family. There isn’t that much for Lena to do except help her grandmother with errands; play basketball with a makeshift hoop she has brought with her and keep company with her 15 year-old cousin Gloria, who wants to be a fashion designer. Fela is a strict disciplinarian and doesn’t give much freedom to Lena, which only further frustrates her overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. Fela has taken it upon herself to ‘straighten Lena out.’ A frequent visitor is Fela’s friend Doña Belen, who also has a grandchild visiting for the summer. Her grandson Junior befriends Lena and Gloria; but it is with Lena that he establishes a special bond – the kind a first love brings.
Puerto Rico is experiencing it’s worst drought in decades. During this summer of the horrible drought, a family secret of a lost love -- and perhaps a murder -- surface and Lena is determined to find out the truth. The secret is connected to Fela, Lena’s grandfather and a magical mango tree that borders Fela’s property. There are rumors that the tree is indeed haunted for it has been producing dead mangoes for many years. And it continues to produce these unusual mangoes even in the drought. Lena frequently pries Fela for answers but she refuses to discuss it. Fela herself is very frustrated and hasn’t been able to purge herself of the memory. The house next store seemingly has the clue but is has been abandoned for many years. A stranger, Felix Plaza, has purchased the house and property; thereby accelerating Fela’s reckoning of a very painful night many years past.
Both Lena and Fela feel unloved. Throughout Lena’s journey to discover the truth, she and her grandmother learn to transform their anger and find that the love they thought absent from their lives has been around them all along.
A charming story of love and family — Mail Tribune
Lena – 12 years old – angry tomboy
Fela – 50s – Lena’s grandmother – reserved / stern / bitter / resentful
Gloria – 15 years old – Lena’s cousin – prissy / restless
Belen – 50s – Fela’s best friend – very extroverted / jovial
Junior – 13 years old – Belen’s grandson – funny / curious / a little lonely
Felix – 50s – Fela’s suitor – polite / charming
Fela has pain in one leg – she frequently rubs her thigh and/or knee.
Fela and Belen frequently carry fans with them.
Set: The patio behind Fela’s house, in the mountains of Puerto Rico; including a mango tree.
Set Notes: Although the play is realistic, I would like the set to be designed in a minimalist fashion. The action takes place in the backyard of Fela’s house. There is a mango tree separating her house from Felix’s house. His backyard will not be seen, but there should be enough room on his side of the stage for actors to interact.
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The required materials for Under the Mango Tree include:
Print Edition – Beautifully bound scripts available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!
Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.
Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution logo artwork and a ready-made show poster.