VIDA brings identity to Waldron

POSTED AT 07:13 PM ON Nov. 9, 2008 


After dedicating weeks to rehearsing and fine-tuning their Spanish, the actors from the Spanish theater group Vision, Identity, Drama, and Art (VIDA) kicked off their Spanish language plays Thursday night at the John Waldron Arts Center.

They presented three one-acts each night from Thursday to Saturday.

The one-acts shared a common theme of identity, VIDA’s overall theme for these performances. The performances also gave the actors, many of them non-native Spanish speakers, a chance to develop a deeper understanding of Spanish language and culture.

“Performing these plays is vitally important for students to see Spanish away from texts and classrooms. They can visualize and bring the texts to life,” said Anne Witte, a visiting assistant professor in the Spanish department who directed the one-act “The New Tamaleras” (Las nuevas tamaleras).  

Despite performing in Spanish, the actors conveyed their emotions to an audience consisting of many people who did not understand Spanish.

“I was surprised by how much the audience laughed and picked up on the cues,” said Molly Monroe, program specialist for the IU Office of Overseas Study, who performed in “The Tableau of Wonders” (El retablo de las maravillas). “That’s the best part as an actor, seeing that people are both enjoying and understanding what’s happening on stage.”

To give audience members another tool to understanding each scene, the directors walked on stage and summarized the play’s basic outline before each performance. “The New Tamaleras” in particular stood out for its ability to engage the audience by combining Spanish and English to tell a story about three Hispanic women making tamales for the first time. Before the play began, Witte came on stage to summarize her one-act.

“The play is traditionally performed at Christmas,” she said. “We played it earlier because we believe it has appeal for everyone who thinks food is connected to culture and family.”

The one-act began with two Spanish women hobbling across stage. Through a blend of English and Spanish, the audience learned the women were in heaven. Immediately after, the scene changed to three modern women fussing over a tamales recipe.

Unbeknownst to the women, the two women from heaven appeared to guide them as they prepared tamales from scratch.

The interplay between the unaware modern women and the frustrated women from heaven garnered many laughs from the audience.  

“‘The New Tamaleras’ was our favorite one-act tonight,” said Denise Craig from Delphi, Ind. “It was the most fun to follow along with. I could understand it more, and because it’s a modern play, the audience related better.”

Freshman Alma Figuero played Donia Juanita, one of the women from heaven. She said she believes theater has the potential to expose community members to Spanish in a new way.

“Even if the audience did not understand each word, they picked up on a lot by our movement and actions,” she said. “That’s why theater works as a tool to teach people about Spanish language and culture.”

Apart from “The New Tamaleras” (Las nuevas tamaleras), VIDA presented two other one-acts, “A Study in Black and White” (Estudio en blanco y negro) and “The Tableau of Wonders” (El retablo de las maravillas). This year marks the third year the organization has performed Spanish language one-acts for the community.  

About 200  people arrived to watch the performances between Thursday and Saturday, said VIDA founder and student Marda Rose. Rose said the one-acts attracted people from different areas, noting the audiences were a blend of students, faculty and community members.

“Every community needs Spanish language theater,” said Witte. “Hopefully it grows and this tradition continues.”


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