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1968 East L.A. Walk Outs Come Alive For Teens

Journalist Luis Torres, educator Paula Crisostomo, and artist Ofelia Esparza interviewed as part of THROUGH THE AGES

Published on LatinoLA: February 14, 2011


1968 East L.A. Walk Outs Come Alive For Teens


Students from Monterey Continuation High School in East Los Angeles have interviewed three former participants of the historic 1968 student Walk Outs, including journalist Luis Torres, educator Paula Crisostomo, and artist Ofelia Esparza as part of About...Productions' Young Theaterworks program, THROUGH THE AGES.

Professional actors will perform interpretations of these interviews in staged readings of "2011 Meets 1968", a series of one act plays written by the student historians. The readings will be on March 2 and March 3, 2011 at the Margo Albert Theater at Plaza de la Raza; 3540 N. Mission Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90031.

In 1968, Chicano students in East Los Angeles staged a walkout from their high schools to protest academic prejudice and dire school conditions. "I'm thrilled that AboutProductions has presented our students with a program where they are obligated to think, speak, explore, ponder and create," said Doug Franklin, Monterey High School Principal. "I think we've ignited some real passion."

THROUGH THE AGES is a cross-generational program that builds literacy as it helps students and elders transcend generational divides. In this instance, students are also bringing to life an historical moment of national significance that took place in their neighborhood. Many of the students who participated in the Walk Outs went on to successful careers in politics, academia and the arts.

WHAT: Staged Readings of "2011 Meets 1968" written by participants in About...Productions' Young Theaterworks program, THROUGH THE AGES. WHEN: Wednesday, March 2 @ 10: 30 a.m., and Thursday, March 3 @ 7 p.m.

WHERE: Margo Albert Theater at Plaza De la Raza, 3540 N. Mission Rd. Los Angeles, CA 90031

COST: FREE Public Event

THROUGH THE AGES participants will introduce the students' works, and professional actors will perform the students' plays. A facilitated discussion will follow the readings and give the audience an opportunity to respond to the young people's work, ask the interviewees questions and speak more directly to the authors about the challenges in making history come alive through playwriting.

"THROUGH THE AGES began as a way to combine our successful senior and youth programs ÔÇô but has blossomed into a huge gift for all generations involved," said Rose Portillo, Young Theaterworks Program Director. "Each generation is transformed through the act of telling and retelling a story. This has been a particularly moving TTA program as students have come to learn about and take pride in the history of their neighborhood and the courage of these committed activists. They have found a new passion for education itself and the rich culture they come from as they use the art of theater to bring these stories to even wider audiences."

"It's amazing how close the students get to history," said Marco Rodr?¡guez, professional playwright and THROUGH THE AGES mentor. "It's exciting to see it come alive in their eyes. " THROUGH THE AGES is part of AboutÔǪProductions' Young Theaterworks program which was founded by Portillo in 2001 and inaugurated at Monterey Continuation High School. Young Theaterworks specializes in working with highest-risk youth in Continuation/Options high schools.

Throughout its 10-year history, the program has continued to bring innovative theater arts programming to students, introducing them to the importance of writing, the power of communication through artistic expression, honest dialogue and live performance. Students work twice weekly for two months with Teaching Artists/Playwrights Rose Portillo and Laurel Ollstein.

For this year's THROUGH THE AGES, the youth have been further mentored by Playwrights Tom?ís Ben?¡tez, Daniel Chac??n, and Marco Rodr?¡guez. For the past 22 years, AboutÔǪProductions has been creating original and critically acclaimed theaterworks in Los Angeles.

The company will further explore the Los Angeles Chicano movement of the late 1960s in a series of programs beginning this April and culminating in the world premiere of Evangeline, The Queen of Make-Believe set for 2012 and written by Portillo, Theresa Ch?ívez and Louie P?®rez of Los Lobos. The production also features the songbook of P?®rez and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. Evangeline is set in late 1960s East L.A., and seen through the eyes of Evangeline, a recent high school graduate who is a devout daughter by day and a Hollywood go-go dancer by night. Her make-believe world transforms as she explores the seminal music and art world of the Sunset Strip, Laurel Canyon and La Cienega Boulevard. As her life expands beyond her neighborhood, her own community is punctuated with the explosive sensibilities of the Chicano Movement, including the student Walk Outs.

Her make-believe world transforms as she explores the seminal music and art world of the Sunset Strip, Laurel Canyon and La Cienega Boulevard. As her life expands beyond her neighborhood, her own community is punctuated with the explosive sensibilities of the Chicano Movement, including the student Walk Outs

About Productions is dedicated to generating new work through collaboration in order to create artistic and community dialogue. THROUGH THE AGES is funded by the California Arts Council, a state agency and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

For 2010-11,
About...Productions' is supported in part by the California Community Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the Pasadena Cultural Affairs Department. For additional information on THROUGH THE AGES contact Angelita Moraga at afmoraga@yahoo.com or 562-293-7619 or About...Productions at 626-396-0920, or visit www.aboutpd.org.

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