“Time for Chocolate” a great snapshot of little-known culture

“Time for Chocolate,” written by TU’s Bruce Willis, played at the Nightingale theater Oct. 6–7 and will continue Oct. 13–14.
Set in the 15th century during the Aztec empire’s expansion into the city-states of pre-colonized Mexico, the play brings to life a time not commonly portrayed.
The Nightingale, an out of the way place downtown, is a tiny theater. The sign denoting the venue’s location humbly stood on the sidewalk on an otherwise abandoned side street.
The play had an interesting premise: a man wanted to invite all his friends over to drink chocolate laced with psychedelic mushrooms and compose poetry, all while trying to interest his son in the activity. The archetypal father-son conflict between Stone Creek and his son Golden Eagle generated humor, plot and tension throughout the work. The poetry, called “Flower Song,” involved slow, dance-like movements and figurative language. Stone Creek wanted to convince Golden Eagle of its importance as his son prepares to become a man.
Willis expanded on this saying, “Plays are often set in New York, or London, but this is a piece that does something different.” As a Mexican-American, Willis emphasized the importance of the play as part of his and his family’s culture. Bringing the sacredness of chocolate and the fascinating culture of this time period to life is a personal project for Willis.
In an effective realization of Willis’s culture, the acting was nothing short of great. The cast worked together to keep the play humorous and decently entertaining. 15-year-old Caleb Henry stood out as Golden Eagle, playing off of Edgar Acosta’s Stone Creek very well. Though clearly younger than almost the entire cast, his energy and ability impressed me the most.
As a celebration of culture, the play nailed it. Chocolate, as Willis said, holds a sacred place in the actor’s culture. The play focused heavily on the role of chocolate as drink of many different functions. Some red dye is added to the chocolate to make it resemble blood: a central metaphor in the culture’s religious practices. The psychedelic mushrooms traditionally used in the drink worked plenty of humor into the play, all while giving the audience insight into a little-known culture. When the main character learned he had to send his son off to war, he showed enthusiasm. In the Q&A session after the play, Acosta explained that his character could not appear weak or worried in front of others, regardless of how he felt. I found this a good way to convey the culture’s mindset on war and battle.
Willis explained in the Q&A that many of the characters in the play were real people. I found it remarkably easy to connect with the characters, which is a testament to Willis’s skill in adaptation. The play was funny, enjoyable and educational. “Time for Chocolate” was a sweet success.

Post Author: Brennen Gray