Eliana López in:
What Is The Scandal?
¿ Cuál es el Escándalo?

Written and directed by Alfonso López

Mission Cultural Center For Latino Arts
presents Eliana López in her One-Woman Show

2868 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110   

Fri June 5th - Sat June 6th / 8pm

Sun June 7th / 6pm

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What's The Scandal?

Remember "the scandal"? That 2012 story that combined all the elements of a soap opera and that triggered a media frenzy? Ta-Da! The Sheriff: a rising politician abusing his immigrant Latina wife. The wife: a hot Latina actress. The good neighbor: a feminist Gringa lawyer that took charge of the matter and made it her mission to save the "submissive" Latina. The trial: domestic violence charges. The City--San Francisco.

Some relish this kind of story, while others, like me, ignore it completely. Purely on instinct, I concluded that the sharks smelled blood and the self-righteous were tooting their horns from earth to heaven. I thought about what difficult times Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife Eliana López must've been facing and felt my usual disgust for the never ending thirst for a sadistic Roman Circus spectacle--that always brings out the worst in people!
(left-to-right) Ariel López w/ daughter, Sheriff Mirkarimi,
(unknown name of guy with cap), Eliana López (no relation to Ariel), Sara Powell, Patricia Kerman, Fernando Martí.

Meeting Sheriff Mirkarimi and Eliana López

On May 2014, after tenant attorney Steve Collier succeeded in obtaining an Ellis Act rescission for a 10-unit building, the community celebrated.


My friends Ariel López (Chilean videographer and teacher) and his wife Leyla Salazar-López (Executive Director of Amazon Watch) organized the tenants and all got to keep their homes (families/student-roommates/artists). After a 6 month ordeal the anti-eviction community and organizers triumphed.


Sheriff Mirkarimi and his wife Eliana López stopped by to say hello. It was the first time I got to meet them in person. Their darkest days seemed to be behind them and the family had weathered the storm. Also, clearly, this was a loving family.


Univision interviews Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi at tenant's victory celebration

Historical Fiction Voices Her Truth

The soap opera is now a theater piece titled "What is the Scandal?" Tastefully crafted by Eliana and her brother, Alfonso López, the script is based on the saga. Alfonso also directed his sister, giving Eliana a chance to--finally--voice her side of the story. Her perspective was ignored throughout the highly publicized ordeal.

This production is an old-school theater piece/one-woman show. A few props and Eliana's portrayal of the various characters keeps you engaged throughout the performance. Each character depicted represents a point of view, while other characters are composites of various people. The machinations of numerous politicians are all represented in Mr. Lie, who clearly stands for Mayor Lee. The patronizing feminists and holier-than-thou domestic violence organizations are depicted in the character of the ever-so-eager-to-rescue condescending neighbor. The endless list of cultural clashes are woven throughout the play. The heroine finds strength when she visits her family in Venezuela, and is reminded of the values her family has instilled in her. She saves her marriage. In the end--it is a love story.

"What was new for me was to discover that my immigrant condition..."

If there is one thing that middle class Latin American immigrants experience in the United States, it's that their accent makes them part of the underprivileged sector of society by default, regardless of their level of education and social status back home.

During the Q&A Eliana commented on how enlightening it is to be--all of a sudden--on the other side of the social barrier "tracks." This awakening is even more profound when you discover that the land of opportunity is a far cry from what you envisioned, and that the sting of discrimination and racism will ultimately force you to get a thick skin. Your heavy accent isn't going way any time soon, and neither are the numerous assumptions that go with it.

This theater piece has many layers. It is a love story. It depicts the dark side of San Francisco politics. It highlights all-around misconceptions based on cultural differences. It depicts the dangers of "well-intentioned" organizations that have the power to rule over your destiny based on unfounded suppositions. Lastly, it portrays that classic Gringa that must rescue the poor, ignorant Latina from herself. You know the type. She took one Latin American studies course at UC Berkeley, joined the Peace Corps for a year, and cannot conceive of the idea that she's not a version of Wonder Woman to every needy immigrant from the savage South.

Press Members and Community Viewing

Never have I witnessed such a mix of press attending a Mission district event as in What is the Scandal?. Sitting in front of me was KCSM music director Jesse "Chuy" Varela reminiscing with San Francisco Chronicle's theater critic Robert Hurwitt.

If you love theater, you can still catch next weekend's performances.

Following is Robert Hurwitt's incisive and intelligent review: Eliana Lopez's "Scandal" makes the personal political   

"Sometimes we need to check our perceptions against our preconceived notions of cultures we presume are less enlightened or more macho than our own. Always, Lopez is saying, we should pay attention to what the presumed victim has to say."

Photo Ross Adams

  Paula Tejeda | Chile Lindo | 415.368.3328 | chilelindosf@gmail.com | ChileLindo.com