About…Productions: Your Ticket to Seeing Spanish Classical Theater through a Social Justice Lens
About…Productions is a current partner in the “Classics in the Classroom” pilot project, a K-12 curriculum-building area of Diversifying the Classics. Co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of the company, Theresa Chavez and Teaching Artist Sayda Trujillo are collaborating with members of UCLA’s Comedia in Translation and Performance Working Group to develop a series of lesson plans using our translation of Guillén de Castro’s comedic play The Force of Habit (La fuerza de la costumbre, 1610). At the center of the play are siblings separated at birth, the brother raised by his mother wears robes and knows how to sew, the sword-wielding sister grew up with her father and is skilled in battle. As the plot unfolds, we’re faced with questions about gender identity and nature versus nurture, and power structures not just in a family unit but the broader social context.
About…Productions’ Chavez and Trujillo are experts in embodiment and dialogue exercises from the traditions of Agosto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed. TO traditions offer a guide to recognizing discrimination and marginalization faced by the disenfranchised and approaches to overcome social divisions, with steps to community building and resistance. To develop lessons for The Force of Habit, the company uses their model, Young Theaterworks (YT) program, a literacy-based theater residency for underserved, at-risk high school students, primarily in East L.A. Our graduate students are observing YT in the classroom and community spaces, learning about engagement with underserved students and arts-based educational tools. Lesson development for The Force of Habit with About…Productions has been an exciting opportunity to incorporate methods in theater arts to create safe spaces to talk about family dynamics, patriarchal social structures, and factors that contribute to forming and performing who we are. The working group will be providing open access (via its website) to all materials created from this initiative, so as to reach teaching artists, teachers and many more students nationwide.