and Giovanna Moreno’s unlikely journey to the stage only started 18 months ago
— but it is rooted in the rich cultural traditions and history of
young Islanders make their stage debuts in "Paso
a bilingual ID Studios production running through this weekend at Theater for a
Spanish, the one-act play was inspired by a 1953 short story by Mexican
novelist Juan Rulfo. The story centers around a young man (22-year-old Vera)
and his desperate attempts to escape brutal poverty in a small Mexican town and
earn money in "The North."
project is the brainchild of German Jaramillo, director and board member of Make the Road
tap into the stories of Mexican immigrants based in Port Richmond, the
fastest-growing Mexican community in the city. According to the 2000 U.S.
Census, the Mexican population on
Make the Road New
is a community-based organization aimed at making
communities of color through advocacy, community organization, adult education,
legal services and leadership. There are 4,000 members with offices based in
Brooklyn, Queens and
Moreno, 17, co-stars as Vera’s sister in "Paso
18 months ago, rehearsals and theater training began for 16 people who were
"interested in trying something new," said Juanita Lara, health
advocate for Make the Road’s Staten Island
office and a "Paso del
I was drawn to was how tapping into memories and historical roots brought
people closer together," Lara said. "We all had stories of family
We would really tap into those memories and enrich the characters that were
part of the stories."
of the members in the original group were enrolled in English classes at Make the Road. After several months, three Islanders —
ranging in age from 17 to 30 — remained committed to the weekly rehearsals.
They balanced their schedules with work or school and when it came time for the
they made the trek via public transportation to share the stories.
of the costumes, props, dances and music used in the play come from the
memories of the actors and their families.
process "introduced different ways to share your experience and your
stories," said Lara. "Telling your story in your own words through
art and theater strengthen the ties to the community."
stories will not end this weekend.
Studios is planning to produce two more plays from Rulfo’s short story
collection, "El llano en llamas." The trilogy is planned to celebrate
the centennial of the Mexican Revolution next year. The next installment will
begin this spring.