Geva Theatre presents the real, and stolen, James Bond | Theater

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  • Christopher Rivas wrote and stars in “The Real James Bond…Was Dominican.”

Diplomat. Soldier. Polo participant. Treasure hunter. Race-motor vehicle driver. Jet-setting international playboy. The FBI suspected he was an assassin doing work for the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.

But you know him as the real-existence inspiration for James Bond.

“It’s form of astonishing that one human being can be in so many places at at the time,” Christopher Rivas claims.

Yet why do you not know Porfirio Rubirosa?

“Is there seriously a lot more of an international male of mystery?” Rivas asks.

Rivas wrote and stars in “The Real James Bond… Was Dominican,” the new production by Geva Theatre Centre, opening Friday and operating through May 29.

The show’s incredibly existence confronts the coronavirus pandemic head on, together with a great deal for a longer time-operating issues for a New York City child who grew up worshiping the James Bond movies of Sean Connery. Also young to generate an Aston-Martin sports activities motor vehicle, but imaginative adequate to be operating about with Nerf guns, pretending he was on secret missions.

In “The Real James Bond… Was Dominican,” Rivas asks of Rubirosa’s legacy: “How did anyone who had so a great deal affect in the world, who was concerned in so many points, who had the most effective franchise in historical past based on him, how did he vanish?”

And he asks of himself: “I’m a Dominican male, and so I have to surprise what my existence would have been like had I not been pretending to be a white male with a British accent?”

“The Real James Bond… Was Dominican” provides answers.

Rivas has an extensive theater résumé, as perfectly as showing in television shows this kind of as “Grey’s Anatomy” and is currently on Fox’s “Call Me Kat.” He’s spread the resourceful prosperity by launching storytelling workshops, and doing work on his autobiography, “Brown Adequate.” All of this making an attempt, he claims, “to spark discussion.”

Yet in this COVID-19 world, without an viewers, the spark has no tinder to established afire.

“Where I appear from, theater doesn’t seriously exist without the viewers, the other human being,” Rivas claims. “I want them in the space with me.”

The space, as we are now fairly employed to, is digital. “The Real James Bond… Was Dominican” is a are living broadcast through Zoom video clip conferencing technological know-how. After acquiring a ticket through Geva’s website, the viewers watches the exhibit, broadcast are living from Geva’s Wilson Stage. Rivas watches, and listens, to the viewers.

“Be current, really don’t vanish into your screens, address it as if you were being coming to the theater,” Rivas claims. “Dim the lights in your home, have the glass of wine beforehand if you require to, and exhibit up, place your mobile phone away and enjoy that hour with me.

“It’s also excellent as a performer to not be carrying out into a void, but to know that the viewers is below with me, and I can listen to them and see them. And we’re inquiring people today to preserve their cameras on, as if they were being showing up at the theater.”

When the viewers has settled into its living rooms, drinks in hand, it will be “looking at the way this male, Porfirio Rubirosa, this male who was two times the richest male in the world” — he married perfectly, two times — “knew all people, was almost everywhere,” Rivas claims. “Hitler’s Germany. Fidel’s Cuba. Greatest good friends with the Rat Pack and Kennedy and Prince Aly Khan. And Marilyn Monroe. You title it. And how he was just type of taken from historical past.”

With “The Real James Bond… Was Dominican,” Rivas also examines his individual existence. “How would my existence have been distinct had the character I loved most as a little one appeared like me, or appeared like my father.”

And we see Rivas seeking back again at himself, as a young male.

“The way I was living my existence as a male of colour, specifically one who works in Hollywood, you know, it disclosed perilous points I was living in my individual existence,” he claims. “How I wanted to observe what I was undertaking and how it was changing my body and my means of living that I wanted to place a stop on in buy to locate my voice.”

A decade in the past, Rivas was a 21-12 months-outdated university university student when he 1st encountered the tale of Rubirosa. It was an report in Vanity Truthful journal, and Rivas was confused. To this day, Rivas doesn’t understand why those people words didn’t go viral.

How did we drop sight of Rubirosa?

“I have to visualize it has to do with colonization and our obsession with Eurocentric standards and, you know, a point that is still taking place to this day,” Rivas claims. “Stealing people’s tales for the whiter audiences.”

Ian Fleming was the writer at the rear of James Bond. Fleming and Rubirosa, Rivas claims, “spent a whole lot of time alongside one another.”

“Rubirosa identified sunken treasure off the coastline of Spain, and anything he did to learn that treasure was expressed phrase for phrase in ‘Thunderball,’ the fifth novel in the Bond collection.”

Fleming employed his buddy, Rivas claims. “He had a huge aspect in producing this male vanish, in getting his tales and not producing them about him.”

So Fleming was one of the principal thieves of Rubirosa’s legacy.

“If he would have been aiding, he would have mentioned, ‘Here’s this Dominican male, appear how cool he is.’ But he mentioned, ‘Here’s this white British naval officer.’”

Yet it was a match that could accommodate a lot more than one participant, and that integrated Rubirosa.

“As a great deal as whiteness may perhaps have taken his tale, I also know that Rubirosa was taken by white men in a way to be found, in a way to be accepted, in a way to consider and have upward mobility,” Rivas claims. “How a great deal can you consider and fit into their match, a match that isn’t built for you.”

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Life editor and reporter. He can be achieved at [email protected]

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