Monday, November 11, 2013

Community Voices Shape a New Play

Teaching artist Sylvia Blush teaching at Ensemble Dance Workshop
South Coast Repertory’s current Dialogue/Diálogos project continues the company’s commitment to working with new voices in the Latino community.  In 1985, playwright José Cruz González created the Hispanic Playwrights Project (HPP), an annual festival of new works that brought together original plays written by Latina/o playwrights. For nearly two decades, HPP provided a first professional theater development opportunity for many writers, launching the career of theatre artists including Octavio Solis, Karen Zacarías and Anne García-Romero among others.

Currently González is the playwright-in-residence for Dialogue/Diálogos project and is writing a community-based play with the participation of Santa Ana residents. Dialogue/Diálogos is a two-year bilingual community-based theatre initiative with Santa Ana’s Latino community, as part of SCR’s 50th Season programs. Diálogos has three phases: story-gathering days, play-making workshops and play development. The project is collecting the stories of Santa Ana residents.

Diálogos Engagement Director Sara Guerrero was influenced through González’ HPP in the 1980s, when her mother took her to witness the birth of the careers of Latina/o playwrights.

“It’s been wonderful watching our community throw themselves into the theatre, dance and other workshops and many have been returnees,” says Guerrero.

Since early 2013, more than 600 Santa Ana residents have  shared their stories, hopes for and dreams for their community and participated in theatre-making workshops, taught by SCR educators and guest artists. Many of these participants expressed themselves theatrically for the first time through their participation in Dialogue Days and workshops.

Marcela is a mother of four whose participation in the Diálogos story-telling sessions inspired her children to get involved.

“At first, Marcela’s kids were more interested in their electronic devices,” recalls Guerrero. “But as the minutes passed, each would put away whatever they were doing and get up to take part in the workshop. Seeing Marcela participating with her two kids reminded me of when my mom would take me to places and things. More often than not, I sat and read a book waiting to leave. But, when something really caught my interest, I would put my book down and join. And that’s what we see happening in Diálogos.”

SCR and its community partner, Latino Health Access, are hosting a series of meetings in November for past participants in Dialagos Dialogue Days and theatre workshops. It’s a chance to hear how the community’s stories may be woven into the new play and to learn more about Diálogos’ next steps.  Past participants are asked to RSVP to the session they wish to attend:

Escuela de Mariachi
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 6-9 p.m.
Delhi Center*

505 E. Central Ave.
Santa Ana, Calif. 92707
*A special performance featuring David Torres’ acclaimed Escuela de Mariachi will kick-off the Delhi Center session!

Friday, Nov. 22, 6-9 p.m.
Latino Health Access

450 W. 4th Street
Santa Ana, Calif. 92701

Monday, Nov. 25, 6-9 p.m.
South Coast Repertory

655 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, Calif. 92628

Learn more about Dialogue/Diálogos

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