Listen to Anne Garcia-Romero talk about Borderlands Theater and you'd swear it was fate that brought the two together.

"Any playwright will tell you collaborations can be very mercurial," the L.A. writer said in a phone interview last week.

Her comedic production "Earthquake Chica" makes its world premiere at Beowulf Alley Theatre Thursday night.

"You are never quite sure if and how the connections will pan out. This time around, I've been fortunate enough to have a director and actors who understand the depth of the play. I was struck by the quality and the support Borderlands has from the community and its emphasis on the border and colliding cultures. It is a great fit for me."

The comfortable relationship seems to parallel that of the main characters in Garcia-Romero's production.

Set in the office of a Los Angeles law firm, the storyline follows Esmeralda, the office secretary, and Sam, a lowly accountant, through the mundane activities of their day-to-day lives.

Esmeralda is an outspoken Latina, completely out of touch with her own culture and looking to do something more with her life.

Sam, on the other hand, is very in tune with his Latin roots, particularly its prose and poetry, but inept when it comes to social situations.

The two hit it off at a Christmas party and new worlds begin to open up for both of them.

Garcia-Romero said she first came up with the idea for this play during her many years working at a law firm to supplement her playwriting career.

"There was such a variety of Latinos and Latinas who worked there, from Venezuela, Miami, Puerto Rico," she said. "I wanted to explore that whole aspect of Latino cultures intersecting in this office setting, the office culture in L.A.

Through a series of quirky workplace misadventures, Esmeralda teaches Sam that there is more to life than books, and Sam shows Esmeralda a world of creativity found within her own culture.

Both acts have a profound impact on their recipients.

Garcia-Romero said the literature aspect also emerged from her own life's experience.

"One thing I've always been fascinated with is how does one come to a sense of cultural identity through literature," she said. "A good portion of my own cultural awareness was through reading the poets of Latin America and Spain."

Despite the play's comedic tone, Garcia-Romero says not to expect any pie-in-the-face slapstick or one-liners.

"That is the interesting thing about comedy as a way of storytelling," Garcia-Romero said. "It is not writing a funny line for the sake of writing a funny line. It is really more about how comedy arises out of the desires of these two people and how each comedic instance pushes the story along.

"My hope is that people can really come away with a notion of how language and poetry can be a means of connecting to one's culture and how unlikely couples can come together and explore new terrain."


"Earthquake Chica"

• Presented by: Borderlands Theater.

• Playwright: Anne Garcia-Romero.

• Director: Eva Tessler.

• When: Preview: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Opening night: 7:30 p.m. next Friday. Continues through June 17.

• Where: Beowulf Alley Theatre, 11 S. Sixth Ave.

• Tickets: $10.75-$18.75.

• Information: 882-7406.

• Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

• Cast: Alida Wilson Gunn and Joe Quintero

• Look for: The review in the June 15 Accent.

● Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at 573-4137 or