A bilingual production that’s based on the true story of Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera will be staged in Pendleton.
Presented by the Oregon Children’s Theatre touring production team, “Tomás & the Library Lady” is relevant and timely with social issues regarding immigration and worker rights. Rivera’s family were migrant workers who fled war in Mexico to live in the United States.
The free performance is Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pendleton Center for the Arts, 214 N. Main St. In addition, while the team is in the region, several school performances are planned in Hermiston.
The production is recommended for ages 5 and up, with the prime audience age range of 6-12 for the story. However, Ava Goodling, Oregon Children’s Theatre’s marketing associate, said teens and adults will enjoy it as well. She said younger children may have some difficulty with comprehending the story, but the production should appeal to them with its songs and a puppet.
Using both English and Spanish in the production, Goodling said, really gives the audience a glimpse into the inside world of Tomás and his family. For people that aren’t bilingual, they won’t have any difficulty following the storyline, she said.
“The cast does an incredible job of telling the story not only with their words, but with songs and body movement,” Goodling said. “There’s a lot of translation back and forth ... so audiences will probably learn some new words too.”
Tomás is just a regular boy who loves to tell stories and play with his little brother, but he comes from a migrant family who is adjusting to a new life in the United States. He has a reoccurring nightmare about his teacher, who won’t let him speak Spanish in school, and the anxiety he feels with this language barrier.
“I think many kids will relate back to a time when they didn’t understand something and how unsettling that feels,” Goodling said. “When Tomás meets the Library Lady, she shows him how it can be fun to learn English. This ultimately helps him overcome his fear of his teacher and allows him to realize that being bilingual is a strength.”
Based in Portland, the Oregon Children’s Theatre is excited about bringing this particular touring production to Eastern Oregon. One of the organization’s goals is to reach rural communities with high Spanish populations who might not have regular access to theater, Goodling said.
“Through this project, OCT hopes to break down geographic, financial and language barriers that block many children and families from access to professional performing arts. We want all young Oregonians to experience the power of great theater,” added Ross McKeen, OCT’s managing director.
For more information about the local performance, call the arts center at 541-278-9201. For more about the Oregon Children’s Theatre, visit www.octc.org.
Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4539