Young Voices

High school students from Seaside, Gonzales, King City, Soledad, North Monterey County and Greenfield wrote and act in Las Memorias, seen rehearsing above.

A group of high school students from across Monterey County will take the stage to share their voices, experiences and dreams.

“There is a me that exists on the other side of this,” a chorus of 11 students say, opening their performance of Las Memorias.

Las Memorias is a play that AnaMaria Correa, artistic director and co-founder of CSU Monterey Bay’s Performance As Education program, co-wrote with the student-actors, knitting together answers they shared on a questionnaire to clinch a spot in the play. Some of the questions included: When have you had to take a risk or a leap of faith? When have you had to face adversity? And what dreams do you have for your life?

Correa wrote the first draft, then met with the actors to make changes so that the story flows. “It’s one thing to write something on paper, but it’s another thing to hear it in someone’s body,” Correa says. The play will include some Spanish lines to ensure parents can understand it.

Anelson Vazquez, 15, from Greenfield High School, talked about his little brother who is 4 years old. “He helped me with this [project],” Vazquez says. “I wrote about being a role model to him.”

Las Memorias is more than a play. It’s also part of a recruiting and development program that John Fraire, Performance As Education co-founder and interim vice president of student affairs at CSUMB, started in 2008 at Washington State University. The idea is to use theater and performance as a way to prepare minority students, especially Latino and first-generation students, for higher education. This is the program’s first summer at CSUMB – participating students spent two weeks on campus, learning skills like public speaking, writing and teamwork. Fraire says one of his goals is to diversify the student population, and “you need to develop creative ways of reaching different communities.”

Fraire, who is also a playwright, reports many students say theater doesn’t appeal to them, but it’s a matter of providing themes that interest them – in this case, autobiographical material. “Las Memorias is about them,” he adds. “It’s their stories.”

LAS MEMORIAS runs at 7pm Thursday, Aug. 4 and Friday, Aug. 5 at the World Theater at CSUMB, 5260 6th Ave., Seaside; and at 6pm Saturday, Aug. 6 at Robert Stanton Theater at King City High School, 720 Broadway St., King City. Free and open to the public.

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