The Writing of "El Barrio"
In October I had the exciting opportunity to join a local non-profit group here in Boston, Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF). The mission of Hyde Square Task Force is to develop the skills of youth and their families so they are empowered to enhance their own lives and build a strong and vibrant urban community. HSTF uses the arts and community development to promote the creativity, leadership, and overall potential of young people.
When I joined the team as Playwright/Theatre Teaching Artist, I quickly learned of their ambitious goal to create a brand new musical that would celebrate the history of the Latin Quarter they call home. Ideally the musical would allow their three youth art programs: Music, Theatre, and Dance to come together and collaborate for the first time.
I had just been in Boston about a month or so when I had accepted the position. One month in a brand new state. One month in brand a new region! And I was signing on to help write a musical (my first) that would tell a community's history? No pressure right? Luckily I was not undertaking this project alone. The entire HSTF youth and staff teams came together to make this musical happen. Even in the drafting of the script.
EL BARRIO began with the students taking the time to listen to their community share stories. From those stories, and the countless stories of the youth and their own families, we were able to create our own. As the playwright for this project, I liked to think of myself as the "master puzzle putter together," when drafting this musical.
Below are a few photos that were taken during our immersive and interactive production on May 20th, 2017.
Through projects like El Barrio, youth develop the skills they need to succeed today and into the future. HSTF youth and staff took an artistic risk by co-writing and co-producing El Barrio: Boston’s Latin Quarter Musical. Grounded in Afro-Latin arts and culture, the interactive show features the stories of countless immigrants, youth, and hardworking families that have contributed to the fabric of the community – the Hyde/Jackson Square area of Jamaica Plain.