July 22, 2016
By Amy M. Peters
The Telluride Playwrights Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary by hosting a play that tells true stories of Hispanic women who live and work in the Telluride region.
The event will take place over five nights, July 27-31, at the Sheridan Opera House. Jennie Franks, local playwright and artistic director of SPARKy Productions, produced the play, called “The Hispanic Women’s Project.” It was written specially for the occasion.
Directed by Yury Urnov of Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington, D.C, the play contains stories of heartbreak and violence, disappointment and bravery. Many of the stories relate to strong women, including some who crossed the border and are undocumented.
The American Immigration Council estimates that one in five Coloradoans are Latino. The Latino population in the state grew from 12.9 percent in 1990 to 17.1 percent in 2000 to 21 percent (or 1.1 million people) in 2013. In reality though, that figure is estimated to be even higher, given how many undocumented Latinos are living in Colorado.
As she researched the stories of local Latinas, Price was unsure whether she would be able to gain their trust to capture their real, often gritty stories.
“This play needs to be seen by everyone living in our community, as these women have a need to be heard,” Franks said. “Some of the stories are not pretty. But within the stories lies a will to survive and create a better life for their families. The play cuts to the heart and soul of these women’s lives by shining a light on their thoughts and feelings about living in Telluride. In the end they are awe-inspiring and uplifting. I have grown to have such a deep respect for these women.”
Tickets are $25 and all proceeds will go toward The SPARKy Latina Scholarship Fund to send young graduating Latinas from the region on to higher education.
“I sat down with the women individually last Christmas and told them what we wanted to achieve, as I knew we could never repay them for sharing their stories,” Franks said. “Each one of the women broke down into tears when they heard that through their stories we would create this scholarship fund. They were grateful to know that their stories had value. One woman told me that she had never told anyone her story, not even her family. I’m hoping that everyone will not only come and see the play but will contribute something to the fund, as every little bit will help.”
Opening night on July 27 is “Spanish Night.” Designed for the local Hispanic community, the performance will be free of charge. There will be a translator with a microphone who will deliver the storyline in Spanish. With assistance from the San Miguel Resource Center, babysitting will be available at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, enabling families to attend the performance.
The play runs for an additional four nights, through July 31, with a 7 p.m. start each evening. Friday night is “Patron Night” and the $100 ticket price will include a reception with the cast after the show and a short live auction, with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund.
“Even though we might think we know what the stories are, until you actually come hear these stories, and see the play, you don’t really get the sense of the impact of their lives here,” Franks said. “You will never get this inside view of what it’s like to be a Latina in a white world — in America.”
Source: Telluride Daily Planet