For about a year now ES Artes, a collaboration between the Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare Festival and Suchitoto, has been training young Salvadorans in theater arts with workshops in acting, directing, stage management, costume design, scene design, dance, music, sound and light. In the last two weeks, they triumphantly presented the Lope de Vega play, Fuente Ovejuna, in which a poor village unites to defeat a brutal commandant.
The play was presented in the patio of ES Artes' traditional Suchitoto house, with the audience sitting on one side, a couple of raised wooden stages, and an intricate piece of carpentry that transformed from a well or pila into a throne for Queen Isabella. The fluid staging used the doors all around the patio - Shakespeare would have loved the effect.
What was most amazing and impressive was to see these young Suchitotense - many of them people I've seen often around the town - performing with enormous talent, great presence and obvious joy. Lope de Vega's story is a powerful one for Salvadorans, who've had their own experience of military brutality and know first hand the need for communities to unite - it was easy to hear the echoes.
It's been too long since I've been in a live theater production, and it was a joy to feel the energy created, channeled and expressed by the cast. Thanks, ES Artes, for a memorable evening!