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Native Writes: Wisdom in a school play

Posted: Saturday, May 11th, 2013

On Thursday night, I joined my son, daughter-in-law and grandson in attending the latest Theatre O — Ortega Middle School play. The young thespians didn’t disappoint.

There was “stage presence” galore; every player had it.

With two granddaughters in the cast, I had attended to watch them, but as the play progressed, the cast had me in the palms of their hands.

Some of the cast members had been involved in each of the plays I had attended to watch my oldest granddaughter perform. Several of them were grandchildren of people I had known since my own youthful days in school, as well as people I had met and learned to respect in my profession and organizational involvement.

The play, like performances when my now-grown sons were in school, was a community gathering, friends and family getting together to share something special.

Thursday’s play was a combination of two plays written in the early part of the 20th Century, “Sunday Costs Five Pesos and Tooth or Shave,” which became a Cinco de Mayo celebration on stage.

The entire cast and crew learned about life in a small Mexican town, where El Cinco de Mayo was a big celebration.

One of my granddaughters had been staying late after school for dance practice, but little did I know that she was joining five other girls to learn folklorico from Domingo Estrada, leader and chorographer of Semillas de la Tierra at Adams State University, who also helped with costumes.

My other granddaughter was a nun and played it to the height of old-fashioned prudery, even to pretending she didn’t know how to dance in the final fiesta.

I was proud, sure, but pride filled the auditorium as parents and grandparents greeted their young actresses, actors, stage hands and backstage geniuses. The crew, lighting and sound people are a huge part of every play, from OMS all the way to Broadway.

Every one of the plays I have attended at OMS has been educationally, historically and culturally relevant, and I thank directors Adriana Chapa and Chloe Flores for that. The choices are superb.

The stage was one that had once belonged to Alamosa High School students, who handed it down to those who would follow.

I wore my “Moose Nation” shirt, just because.

Moose Nation is the amazing group of people who are educated in Alamosa schools and go on to become a big part of our world.

Back when I was in college, Cinco de Mayo was a big deal. The weather was warming up, commencement was drawing near and a year of learning sought release. For a week, there were culturally relevant speeches, presentations and parties.

El Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of 4,000 Mexican soldiers against 8,000 French forces on the morning of May 5, 1862 in Puebla, Mexico.

At that time, the San Luis Valley was ruled by Mexico, which was in the grip of the French. Sept. 16 is actually Mexican Independence Day, but somehow, May 5 has become the day to celebrate.

Freedom was essential to human survival in Mexico, just as it is vital as we move forward in the 21st century, learning lessons from our children and grandchildren, who help us find it in new ways, in fascinating plays.

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