Friday, June 28, 2013

Telling a Community’s Story Through Theatre

The Process
Walk into the lobby of Latino Health Access in Santa Ana and you encounter a phrase that rings true: “Participation makes the difference.”

The phrase defines the success to date of Dialogue/Diálogos, a two-year bilingual theatre-making project that is currently gathering stories of the Santa Ana Latino community. The goal is to turn those stories into a play to be performed in Santa Ana as well as South Coast Repertory in the fall of 2014.

Latino Health Access is a long-standing Santa Ana organization that promotes health awareness through community participation. In partnership with SCR, the two organizations are working to build community connections to and support for Dialogue/Diálogos. The entire project is made possible through support from The James Irvine Foundation.

“What makes this project so different and exciting is that the point of inspiration is from gathering the stories of the Santa Ana community,” says Kimberly Colburn, Dialogue/Diálogos dramaturg.  “Our playwright, José Cruz González, is charged with listening to the many people in the community who have generously shared their lives with us. He will weave together the threads of these stories into the fabric of his play with the aim of honoring and respecting the many faces of Santa Ana.”

The Playwright and Engagement Ensemble

Dialogue/Diálogos Engagement Director Sara Guerrero gathered an ensemble of SCR bilingual teaching artists to work with González. Together, they are guiding the story-sharing process, will teach play-making workshops, and mentor and train community members who want to be involved in the production process.

“Our teaching artists are essential to promote trust, guide open participation and facilitate story-sharing exercises that are useful for the creation of this play,” says Guerrero. “More importantly, participants have told us that sharing stories with their neighbors has had a profound impact on their bond with the community.”

The Stages

The project is fully open to community participation. There are three distinct phases that are guiding the creation of  this community play from its inception through curtain call:
  1. Story-gathering with Dialogue Days began in early 2013. Santa Ana residents at more than 10 locations throughout the city have been sharing their stories, memories of and hopes for their community.
  2. Play-making workshops will be offered in fall 2013. SCR teaching artists will work with Santa Ana residents who are interested in acquiring or honing skills, which they can use in the creation of the play, either on stage or behind-the-scenes.
  3. Play development will be open to the community as well, with activities ranging from participating in readings of the draft script to backstage work and to auditioning for a role.
Follow this exciting theatre-making process as Dialogue/Diálogos’ unfolds, and learn about the partner organizations, playwright and engagement ensemble through our Facebook page!

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