Through the Eyes of Elizabeth Arellano (MYLH)

As our July 30th opening of Miss You Like Hell grows ever closer, we were excited to do a Q and A with the director of the production, Elizabeth Arellano. Elizabeth is excited to return to Patio Playhouse as a director. She most recently directed Patio’s first bilingual production, Juan Mayorga’s Animales Nocturnos/Nocturnal. Her recent and favorite credits include: The Living Altar Plays Festival, Plays By Young Writers (Old Globe); Beachtown and Native Gardens staged readings (San Diego Rep); Seven Spots On The Sun (InnerMission Productions); Lamb’s Valentine’s Day Cabaret (Lamb’s Players); Last Day’s of Judas Iscariot and A My Name is Alice (SDSU). Arellano holds her BA in Theatre Performance from SDSU and a M.Ed from the University of San Diego and sends her utmost gratitude to family, friends, husband, and the incredible cast and team behind Miss you Like Hell.

Read on to hear about this production through Elizabeth’s eyes, and then reserve your tickets to Miss You Like Hell!

What drew you to this show?

The fact that you have two Mexican women as the main protagonists of a musical. I can only imagine how this show would have affected me had this been done 25 years ago. It is incredibly rare to see both leads be women, and especially two brown women. Once I listened to the music and read the script, I knew I needed to help bring it to life.

What about this show makes it relatable to the cast and crew?

The underlying themes within this musical tackle real political and social issues, and I believed it was important that our cast and crew understood the themes revealed throughout the show are relevant to all people. From a young woman dealing with depression and anxiety to strained familial relationships, these are universal truths things we all experience. That is what this show aims to do. To show that immigrant stories are complex because they are human stories.

In what ways is this show specifically relevant to today? 

We are literally living THIS history right now. Immigrant children are still in cages, families continue to be separated, and just recently a federal judge in Texas barred the current administration from approving new DACA immigration applications. We are not so far removed from the social and political realities of MYLH.

What has been the biggest challenge of the process? What about the biggest triumph?

The biggest challenge was to overcome my own insecurities. Is this good enough? Am I making the right decisions? Deep down, I knew I was the right person to tell this story. I realized that asking these questions in the first place demonstrated how deeply I cared for this musical. I would say the biggest triumph is working with this amazing cast and production team. At the start of our first rehearsal, I made a speech and gave all cast members an idea of my collaborative directing style and immediately it became just that, a collaborative process. I am beyond grateful to each and every single person involved in this production.

What are you most hoping that the audience takes away from this production?

That the immigrant experience is not a monolith. That people begin to understand that behind catchy news titles are real humans with their own autonomy, with their own hopes, thoughts, and aspirations. If more people practiced empathy and understanding I believe we would have a better chance of creating the change we desire to see.

Is there anything else you’d like to share that hasn’t been asked above?

Working with his production crew has been nothing short of amazing, rewarding, and just utterly fantastic. I owe all of that to Matt, Emerson, and the ever-so-lovely Erika, our music director. All three of them have kept me focused, but also have been such a magnificent help since this is the first musical I’ve ever directed. There were a lot of firsts for me but what made it easy was having an amazing team. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without them, especially Erika. Erika and I are both Chicanas/Mexican Americans and we both have spoken about what the show means to us on a deep and personal level and how happy it makes us to see that nuestra gente, our people, are being represented in this medium.