La Ofrenda (The Offering) is a drama about two women, Sara and Juana. Juana works as Sara’s ‘muchacha’, a domestic worker found in the homes of many wealthy Latin American families. A ‘muchacha’ earns next to nothing and is tasked with cooking, cleaning and looking after children. In Sara’s case, however, there are no children. Her inability to conceive has left her feeling like a failure in the eyes of her husband, her society and herself. As we meet Sara she is desperately undertaking her fifth round of IVF, the failure of which extinguishes the last of her hope. Juana does her best to help Sara with the physical, hormonal and emotional ordeal she faces as she confronts her infertility. At the limit of her desperation, Sara implores Juana to be her surrogate. Juana instantly refuses. She has recently married and is thrilled to be trying for her first baby. When Sara returns, offering an enormous financial inducement, Juana is put into the terrifying position of confronting what her first pregnancy is worth. The choice is no longer hers. The offer presents her, her husband and her extended family a way out of poverty… at what expense?
Genesis 16:2; "Sarai said unto Abram, I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.” The story of Sarai and Hagar fascinates me, as does the idea of one woman using another, specifically a ‘maid’, to bear a child for her. What happens when a person uses someone else for their own gain? My adaptation, La Ofrenda, offers an intimate examination of the relationship between a domestic worker and her employer in a modern-day Mexican home. I am intrigued by the complex relationship between a ‘muchacha’ and her mistress in light of Mexico’s grave economic and social disparities. Juana’s life, like many other Mexican women’s, is put on hold as she is expected to cook, clean and raise someone else’s children, becoming a secondary character in her own story. Much like Sarai in Genesis, Sara commodifies another woman’s body and future. Both are stories of power and powerlessness. What is one woman willing to do to another in order to get what she wants? ‘Take my servant that you and I might obtain a child by her’, becomes ‘take this money and I will obtain a child by you.’