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The community of artists within Puerto Peñasco continues to grow. A welcome addition to this landscape is Xochitl Jasso (Xoja [pronounced So-Ha]), originally from Monterrey, with a theater background who moved to the area just last Fall and quickly jumped onto the Peñasco stage (literally). This past weekend, Xoja’s second group from a children’s theater workshop put on their rendition of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at a Sunday afternoon function held at the auditorium of the Superior Technological Institute of Puerto Peñasco (ITSPP). Earlier in the month, RockyPoint 360’s MoKa Hammeken had a chance to learn more about this great new addition to our arts community. In addition to Xoja’s passion for theater, she is also an active animal rights promoter and continues doing paperwork for an Animal Rights organization to which she belongs in Monterrey, as well as support the local group Pet Effect here in town.
By MoKa Hammeken
Xochitl arrived to Puerto Peñasco from Monterrey in October of last year. Her husband is an engineer and was contacted to come work at the mines. She is so restless that as soon as she stepped foot in Peñasco she had already signed up for a theater workshop with Ramsés Chaira, though she had been in Peñasco earlier.
“I was in the first film workshop, it ended and I went back to Monterrey… I came at that time as my husband had been called up to start the project [at the mines] so when he told me we would be going to Puerto Peñasco I searched online for things to do, as honestly I was not about to just stand around with my arms crossed. I came across information about the Film Workshop organized by the Film Club (Primera Toma) and worked it out with them…doing part of the workshop online. But we were only here for a little while as they cancelled the project…then they called him back up in October and we returned.”
How did you become involved with the Theater Workshop for children?
“Well, just seeing the need. At all the Casas de Cultura there are theater workshops for children, and here there wasn’t one. When I got here in October I spoke with Nina (of Primera Toma) to see if I could put one on…and so we did, as of January of this year… I really like working with children and with youth; it’s really gratifying and I enjoy it. It fills me in a different kind of way to see all that a child can achieve from one day to the next – it’s a lot!!”
What about the other project, Viento Negro (“Black Wind” – which is also what the mega dust storms are called across Sonora)?
“Ah yes! It’s a collective; when I got here I didn’t know anyone and much less anyone who wanted to do theater. I began to meet some who did theater, or liked it, and then met others when they did the Pastorela here in December. I thought, wow! There are really a lot of people who like this – some with talent, others of us with lots of drive, but we are many! Over coffee and talks, the point came up that people wanted to do something beyond just the yearly pastorela, or rather something more than once a year… so I put out a call (after speaking with many others) to put together a “street” theater troupe. The idea is there are no bosses or directors; here it’s about contributing what we know and putting together whatever we’re going to present as a collective; so whether people come or go, this will continue.”
“The thing is to put on presentations constantly; we had thought about every 2 weeks but you’ve got to be ready with short plays of about 10 minutes, then larger works. I don’t know, once every two months or so and then even larger pieces in the auditorium every 4 to 6 months. The advantage of “street theater” is how it’s open to improvisation, but it’s not really for longer plays such as formal theater. I know, and we’re all aware, that this is an ambitious project…that work and life come together and it’s not always possible to do things as frequently as one would like (particularly at the beginning). Still, having that in mind is helpful because you make a commitment.”
“Now that Peñasco is becoming so cultural, I’d like people to see the collective constantly in the streets, see how it’s done, and how it grows. I’d like them to get to know us and for this to create interest, and encourage them to participate if they like. We also invite writers who would like to participate with their work, as well as others so not just those who act. There are many other things to do, for example: wardrobe, sound, directors, scenery, make-up, screenplays, etc.”
[Excerpts in English / Translation: SKR]
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