Archive for the ‘Spanish Outreach’ Category

Theatre Arts Workshop in Tijuana

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Cristina with Lani in the background

Over the years, part of Unarius’ Spanish outreach has included facilitating one-day workshops in Tijuana libraries, where the children constructed spaceships during the library’s summer program. Unarius student and Tijuana librarian Cristina Bravo invited Lani Calvert, who coordinates Spanish outreach, to participate again this year in the summer program. Since Lani works with music for a living, her first thought was to perform some songs in Spanish for the children.

Kevin teaching the kids to airbrush

However, as it turned out, both Cristina and Lani had set it up on the “inner” to do a more grandiose project. Four inspirational songs from four Disney movies were chosen as cores for vignettes.  As the plan unfolded, over the course of five days for three hours a day, the children learned about many aspects of theatre arts by participating in all processes of staging the vignettes. Thirty-two children took part, ranging in age from 8 to 12.

On Monday, Kevin and Tracey Kennedy drove down to Tijuana with Lani. Prior to the workshop, Kevin had printed an outline of one image from each of the songs on 5’ x 6’ pieces of vinyl, to be used as backdrops. After a brief demonstration of how to use an airbrush, the children started painting the backdrops while Kevin helped each child to successfully use the airbrush. Meanwhile, Tracey was filming and taking photos—and at the same timewas helplessly bombarded with the children’s questions in Spanish. The children then received some dialog and the lyrics for each of the four songs, which they could take home to practice for the upcoming auditions.

On Tuesday, William Proctor traveled to Tijuana to demonstrate how to cut and glue PVC pipe, so they could eventually make a framework to hang the stage curtains. Since the rest of the children were busy making larger-than-life “talking” birds from the scene in Cinderella, one child at a time would go to William and Iris, a lovely volunteer helper and translator, to try the process themselves.

On Wednesday, all the children participated in auditions for at least one part in the vignettes, either as actors or singers. Those children who ended up not being chosen for the main roles served as stagehands. The craft for the day involved each child making a mask for the beast from Beauty and the Beast, one of which was chosen for the scene.


Lani assisting with rehearsal

Thursday was used for a dress rehearsal, set and prop configuration, and putting it all together! Friday was the final rehearsal, up to the last minute, and then show time—what a whirlwind production! But the parents and other attendees loved it. They were constantly snapping photos with cameras and cell phones while William videotaped the whole show.

With the help of a few adults and the ever-present inspiration of the Unarius Brotherhood, the children did almost everything: beside acting and singing, they painted the backdrops, made the bird characters, came up with some of the staging and several of the costumes, provided the music on cue, and handled the props, backdrops, and curtains. They did amazingly well with so little time to prepare—a great demonstration of what can be done with a shoestring budget for materials but lots of heart and love in action by all involved!

To watch a video clip go to


Video of the children’s enactment of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from the movie Cinderella (In Spanish)