ESTIMATED RUNNING TIME: 1 hour 20 minutes, no intermission.
CONSUMER ADVISORY: Suggested for audiences age 13 to Adult. Mature content.
"Empanada for a Dream" takes its title from the delicacies that Juan Francisco Villa's mother made that were legendary throughout his Lower East Side neighborhood while he was growing up: Empanadas so good that he would trade all his Batman and X-Men comics for them. In fact, Villa's memoir begins with the warm, fuzzy recollections of childhood and his Colombian family in New York.
He becomes aware of dark, family secrets as he grows up. His grandmother and uncles are firmly involved with the Colombian drug cartel. One by one, the men around him either die violently by the time they're 32, or go to prison for many years. Pursuing the American dream of success, the mindset changes from people bettering each other in a spirit of community to people bettering themselves.
Juan's strict mother is a lifeline to him. How he escapes the cycle of blood and violence by getting out and later returning home at the age of 32 with children of his own and dreams of longevity is part of the story of "Empanada for a Dream," too.
Juan Francisco Villa performs the multiple characters presented in his script.