David Reynoso Gifts Audiences a Beautiful Homage to a Passage of Mexican Culture

Through the Immersive Experience in La Lucha 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

La Lucha. Photo courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse
There has not been a time when I have experienced David Reynoso's work and it is not mindblowing. Truly, mindblowing whether it is a sealed envelope arriving at my place with instructions on how to access Portaleza, the beautiful permanent exhibit of Teatro Piñata at the New Children's Museum, or just one of his many fantastic costume designs, each Reynoso and/or Optika Moderna experience will be matchless and memorable. This year, the Mexican sport Lucha Libre was showcased as part of La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls Festival in the lovely and singular La Lucha taking place for one last weekend in San Diego's Museum of Contemporary Art.

The immersive journey includes a set of goggles and headphones. At times the vision is taken away by blocking the goggles and having a cast member guide you through the experience. Before it starts, a couple of house rules are shared, and also make sure audience members feel safe and if at all triggered by the dark or not being able to see, raise their hand so they can be escorted out. I have high, HIGH levels of anxiety so at one point I did feel like raising my hand but I toughed it out! and I was glad I did because it is such a gorgeous, rich experience. There are four main characters in the plot, a wedding with a luchador or wrestler, and a letter where the bride is warned not to marry. Each person will have their own particular experience as cast members take you by the hand and guide you to the different rooms for varied scenarios. The people in the group will coincide in some scenes but not all will get to go to the same rooms or see the same characters. For example, I was taken to a room where I ended up doing a ritual with sand and toy luchadores followed by a beautiful recreation of Xochimilco's trajineras. I was about to cry in emotion and wondered if my husband had experienced it as well, which he had not. 

There is not much dialogue during the performance but the dialogue that it does have, is full-on Spanish and it does not matter if you do not speak it because what is happening can be fully grasped. I do not want to give too much away but as you enter the experience, your vision is blocked by one of the actors and they guide your hands to hold a rope and have it take you to the next room. Once there, we see a lucha match or wrestling match and there, my brain made the connection between holding the rope with no vision to finally arrive at the match. The combination between sensory and reveal is well crafted, taken care of, and truly moving. The drama unfolds with almost every character masked and a bride going to her ceremony but changing her mind in front of the audience. My group had about 10 people in it and we were paired or separated for each room, little door, or peephole. The other amazing part, especially for these current times full of gadgets and social media, is that there is absolutely no opportunity for "distraction". Audiences have to be in it fully, even if you stay too long or longer than you should seeing something, an actor will come escort you to what is next. The headphones provide ravey music and some folk nostalgic, and sad songs. I could hear Chabela Vargas come through (who btw was born in Costa Rica but Mexico adopted her like many artists). Her raspy voice totally gives feeling and momentum to the sad, confused bride roaming through the detailed churrigueresque halls.

La Lucha is a unique experience for anybody. For people who are not familiar with Mexican culture, this is an authentic portal to it created with a substantial amount of love. Speaking for myself as a Mexican woman, this was a lovely balm that truly caressed my soul.

Many might ask "what is this about?" even after the experience. The charm of La Lucha is that it can be anything you want it to be. In Lucha Libre, the Luchadores wear their mask 24/7 fully embodying their character and that persona. When they lose a match, the rival takes the mask off in front of the audience as a public shaming. Showing your face in Lucha Libre is a sign of weakness and shame. Maybe 'Lucha is putting a conversation on the table about the different masks we wear in society and how shame takes different forms and meanings. "Lucha" in Spanish also means fight or struggle so, in the end, whichever experience and room you had, it all makes sense. There might be a struggle to understand, there might be a fight to grasp just like real life.

You can continue the discussion at the cantina at the end of the trail and have some mole verde nachos or chicharrones mmmm. It is all worth it.

There are very few chances left to experience the amazing La Lucha with entries to the portal every 10 minutes. Most of the slots are sold out but there are still a few left. Reserve while you are able by clicking here.

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