by: John Rodriguez
For writer Elaine Del Valle, as a child in Brownsville, Brooklyn she knew that small portions of crack were the size of .22 bullets and that larger portions were as big as Uzi shells. Such details can be heard in her off-Broadway production called, “Brownsville Bred…Growing up Elaine.” Wearing a black shirt, Del Valle, 40, welcomes audience back into her childhood via a mocked up stage decorated to look just like the living room in the Langston Hughes Houses she grew up in.
“It’s just thrilling that my work has been recognized to this level,” said Del Valle, a successful actress and writer who wrote the play in just three months, “It just feels so good.” Del Valle begins the play by reciting the Wikipedia entry of Brooklyn’s Brownsville, which has a description describing the neighborhood as having the highest concentration of public housing, a low high school graduation rate and a median household income of merely $18,000.”
Standing up the stage, Del Valle transforms herself back into a younger Elaine living with her Puerto Rican family during the 1980s. In an innocent voice, not yet touched by adulthood, Del Valle recounts personal stories of friends addicted to drugs, a guy who wanted to rape her, and the death of her father. Throughout deep and personal scenes, Del Valle manages to include heartfelt moments of salsa dancing, rap music, and moments which simply make audience members laugh.
Described as the female John Leguizamo, Del Valle has drawn positive reviews from the public. With her off-Broadway show earning attention since its debut back on June 16, 2009 at the Teatro La Tea on 107 Suffolk Street, the show is now being performed off-Broadway at 59 East 59th Street New York, NY 10022. While the success of her show grows, Del Valle is writing a book about growing up in the city projects which is the same concept between her one-woman show.
For more information about “Brownsville Bred…Growing up Elaine,” and for future performance go to www.brownsvillebred.com