Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lions, Tigers, Clowns, and a Cricket: Guatemala Update

From May 20-June 16, Bond Street Theatre artists Christina, Ilanna, and Olivia were in Guatemala to work with girls in Oasis Orphanage, thanks to Ida's Hjelpefond and the Davis Projects for Peace.  Olivia writes from the field in San Lucas and Antigua.

Hello all!
I made it to Guatemala- and am already entranced by the country.  Guatemala is wonderful, and the work is wonderful too.

The masks.
First thing when I arrived, the 17 girls who participated in the first two weeks of workshops with Ilanna and Christina performed what they had learned for all the Oasis staff and residents. Thee 5 youngest ones are not continuing to devise the final show due to scheduling. so they all put together a presentation of what they had been learning - Commedia stands, Dead or Alive, silly handshakes, and a dance with animal masks made with balloons and papier mache. The ladies made lions, tigers, a lizard, an elephant, and a cow.  They danced to "Send Me On My Way," which caused all the girls to shout out, "MATILDA!" It was a lot of fun, and certainly a community affair!

Ilanna, Christina, and Marlita (the cricket puppet).

After the girls' performance, Ilanna and Christina performed the Spanish language show they devised in Guatemala.  It is the story of a cricket, Marlita, who finds the clowns to ask them to bring her to the sea and fulfill her life-long dream.  When they make it to the sea, there is a dangerous storm that threatens to destroy the cricket's home town!  She and the clowns must rush back to her pueblo to warn the community about the incoming storm- and they make it just in time.  It is loosely based on a Mayan folktale about a singing cricket, and Ilanna and Christina have turned it into a fun, interactive, and very funny show appropriate for all ages.  The Oasis ladies loved it.

The problem tree.

Then we got right to work with the12 older girls. We made a problem tree to examine the issues in the community, and I simply could not believe how wise these young ladies are. Most are actually not orphans, but have been removed from their biological homes due to sexual abuse.  Instead of delving into self destructive behavior they have found an incredible positivity.

They identified "la falta de amor"'- lack of love- as the main problem in the community. They noted how the roots of the problem and its manifestations are cyclical, and it is so easy to get trapped in that cycle from an early age. The way out from such abuse and oppression must begin with the individual, and then move outward to the family and to the world. These girls blow my mind.

We gave them a little homework: come up with a 1 or 2 minute piece about lack of love. We see their work on Wednesday, and start to turn it into a show. I know they will bring in great material to mine for the final piece.

One more quick fun fact- we are staying at a home stay called La Familia in Antigua, which has a bunch of rooms. The current La Familia residents include: the Guatemalan couple who owns and runs it, their youngest son, 2 Norwegians (Ida, our project partner, and a social worker named Turid), 3 BST actor-educators, and 3 Seminary students from Virginia. We are certainly a motley bunch!

More soon,

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