By Jesus Papoleto Melendez
Initially, Junkies was my outrage and lashing out at “the System” for the injustice of perpetrating drugs’ proliferation in our community. Thereby, resulting in the killing-off of so many of us Puerto Ricans while still in the prime of our lives — not to mention the many middle-aged junkies (such as my own father) who somehow manage to die at a slower, protracted, and painfully agonizing pace.
After the production at the Nuyorican Playwright’s Unit, I began re-writing the play to express the more human and universal story that I felt was implied but not portrayed effectively in the original production. I wanted the characters out of their stereo-typed roles and into the hearts of these people who I had known throughout my life — people lost in. a human dilemma of being trapped in this place and time. I wanted to recreate a drama on these Puerto Ricans and the impact that drug proliferation had upon their lives!
While the original 1974 play script of The Junkies Stole The Clock now rests at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Library archives of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theater, this version of the play is a premiere in its own right. The problem has not gone away. It still plagues us in the worst way since more Puerto Ricans continue to die from AIDS and AIDS related illnesses than were shooting up over-doses in the years spoken in this simple dramatic piece.
This presentation of “Junkies” is a collection of excerpted scenes, which deal with the relationship between the two lover characters in the play, Candi & Poli, who are in the throes of a relationship and a battle with drug addiction.
Playwright and Cast:
Jesús Papoleto Meléndez – Playwright
Award-winning New York-born Puerto Rican poet who is recognized as one of the founders of the Nuyorican Movement. He is also a playwright, teacher and activist.
Affectionately known as “Papo,” Meléndez published his first poem, “Message to Urban Sightseers” in Talkin’ About Us (1969). The publication of his earliest volumes of poetry, Casting Long Shadows (1970), Have You Seen Liberation (1971), and Street Poetry & Other Poems (1972), firmly established Meléndez as a prominent poet in the Nuyorican community. His other publications include Concertos On Market Street (Kemetic Images, 1994), which merged his Nuyorican melodies with a Southern California sensibility, and Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry, A Bilingual Edition (2012) a compilation of his three previously published books from the 1970s. As the recipient of Pregones Theater’s 2014 Master Artist Award, many of the selections from Hey Yo! Yo Soy! was made into a play of the same name, and performed at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in 2014.
Meléndez is a NYFA Poetry Fellow (New York Foundation for the Arts, 2001), and is the recipient of thr Pregones Theater’s 2014 Master Artist Award. He has received the Union Settlement Association “Innovation Award” (2011), the Universes Poetic Ensemble Company Award in “Appreciation of Inspiration & Commitment to the Development of the Company” (2006); The 1st Annual El Reverendo Pedro Pietri Hand Award in Poetry, El Spirit Republic de Puerto Rico, El Puerto Rican Embassy (2006); The Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award, Amherst College (2004); and an Artist for Community Enrichment (ACE) Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts (1995). Now an elder statesman of the New York poetry scene, Meléndez has become a mentor for emerging poets and writers. ❖
Belange Rodriguez – Performer
Accomplished Puerto Rican actress based in New York City. Her work includes Broadway and International Festivals credits such as “Latinologues” with Eugenio Derbez at NYC Town Hall, The Fringe Festival and TV shows such as Decisiones for Telemundo International. She has been recognized by the ACE and HOLA and LATA Awards, amongst others in New York City and Puerto Rico. Named “Up and Coming Latina Actress” by Daily News VIVA Magazine and recognized by the Village Voice for her work in The Spanish Repertory Theatre for her role in the play “Chained Dog” (“Marido Encadenado”).
Ivan Goris – Performer
Ivan has appeared in the MARTIN SCORSESE and MICK JAGGER’S executive produced HBO’s show VINYL; Tim Blake Nelson’s “ANESTHESIA” starring Kristen Stewart; and NETFLIX’s “THE GET DOWN” produced by SONY TELEVISION and SPIKE LEE’S reboot SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT on NETFLIX. Ivan is young talent emerging at a fast pace within the film and TV mainstream industry. He is Dominican- American Actor and Writer / Producer born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side