Rebel Sisters

"In the Time of the Butterflies" tells the true story of four sisters who stood up to one of the most vicious political regimes in history.

Adlyn Carreras and Thallis Santesteban
Photo by Rich Ryan
re(sisters) — Adlyn Carreras and Thallis Santesteban.

Playwright Caridad Svich returns to Mixed Blood Theatre this month for the area premiere of In the Time of the Butterflies, an adaptation of the popular historical novel by Julia Alvarez. It tells the true story of the Dominican Republic’s Mirabal sisters, whose underground resistance led to the overthrow of Rafael Trujillo, a brutal dictator responsible for killing more than 50,000 people. “The sisters are national heroes,” Svich says.

Audiences may remember Svich from Mixed Blood’s 2010 production of The House of the Spirits, her adaptation based on the novel by Isabel Allende. She sees the works as sharing the same themes: “They’re both female-centered, about activism and resistance. But this one is internal and more intimate.”

For her novel, Alvarez went to the Dominican Republic to conduct interviews with survivors and crafted a fiction rooted in history. “It’s a challenge to deal with history,” Svich says. “I feel the weight of it especially with women who’ve been martyred. I’ve written a meditation and reflection of these women’s lives, an elegy and a celebration.”

Alvarez helped Svich during the writing process. “She read each draft and gave me notes,” says the playwright. “My play is a response to the novel, not a riff on it. I’m trying to capture the essence of what it feels like to read the book. It’s inspired by the facts, but it’s not a docudrama.”

The original production, which has been running in New York for more than two years, is in Spanish. At a request from Jack Reuler, Mixed Blood artistic director, Svich has done a bilingual version for this production that will be accompanied by supertitles in both languages. April 5–27. Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. 4th St., Mpls., 612-338-6131,