Esperanza Rising


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Esperanza Rising

  1. 1. Study Guide: a resource for teachers
  2. 2. 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS KEY CHAPTER ONE: ABOUT THE PLAY Activity ESPERANZA, AN INTRODUCTION 3 or discussion questions to incorporate in the classroom THE SETTING 4 LITERARY THEMES 5 To go further… more challenging information for older students CHAPTER TWO: CULTURE AND LANGUAGE LEARNING SPANISH! 6 Behind the scenes TRADITIONAL VALUES 7 anecdotes from members of Emerson’s production MARIACHIS 9 CHAPTER THREE: IMMIGRATION CAUSE… 11 …AND EFFECT 12 CHAPTER FOUR: THE PRODUCTION THEATER FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES 13 EMERSON’S ESPERANZA 14 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Born on December 25th, 1951 in Bakersfield, California, Pam Muñoz Ryan earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in education BOOK SIGNING! from San Diego State University. A former bilingual teacher, Muñoz Ryan was encouraged by Pam Muñoz Ryan will be at one of her professors to write. Taking the advice, the Emerson College Muñoz Ryan found success and published her first Bookstore located at 114 picture book in 1994. Boylston Street, The story of Esperanza Rising came from Saturday, November 14th Muñoz Ryan’s grandmother who was an immigrant from 4:00 – 5:30pm! from Mexico. Like Esperanza, her grandmother had to endure the hardships of her father’s death and prejudice against her Mexican heritage.
  3. 3. 2 PLAYWRIGHT After graduating college, Lynne Alvarez traveled to Mexico where she served as a newspaper reporter in Veracruz. Alvarez also taught journalism and English at the local university. In 1978, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre invited her to join their playwriting workshop. With the company she wrote three plays, all exploring her Latina background. Usually a writer of poetry, Alvarez’s writing style is dense poetic style with rich, vivid imagery, and highly stylized language. Before her recent death in 2009, Alvarez lived in Dallas, TX and was the playwright in residence at the Undermain Theatre. 3 Children’s Theater of Madison PREVIOUS PERFORMANCES Madison, WI (2008) 4 Chicago Children’s Theatre 1 Children’s Theatre Company Chicago, IL (2008) Minneapolis, MN (2006) 5 Civic Youth Theatre 2 Brigham Young University Theatre Lafayette, IN (2008) Provo, UT (2008) 6 The Children’s Bilingual Theater Marietta, GA (2009) 7 Emerson Stage THE JOURNEY FROM BOOK TO STAGE Boston, MA (2009)   To get your students in a “theatre” mindset, encourage them to adapt their mind’s image of a story to the stage. Pick either a book the class is reading together, or let your students use one they are reading independently. Generate a class discussion or activity using the following: •What is the most important part (the Climax) of the story? •Who are your favorite characters? How do you envision them in real life? Think of their walk, physical and personality characteristics, presence, demeanor, clothing etc. •Attempt to include Dramatic Structure: Who is the antagonist, the villain, and who is the protagonist, the main character? Describe their traits using the above. Options: •Have the students walk across the room as their chosen character. Discuss what the student conveys in their movement. •Create a drawing of their chosen character, or an event in the story.
  4. 4. 3 Chapter 1: About the Play PLOT SYNOPSIS THE CHARACTERS Esperanza Rising is the story of a wealthy Mexican girl whose privileged Esperanza Wealthy rancher’s daughter existence is shattered when her father Hortensia Maid of Don Sixto’s family dies and her family loses everything 4 Mariachis Musicians they own in a fire. Esperanza is forced Don Sixto Esperanza’s father, a landowner to leave her mother behind and flee to Ramona Esperanza’s mother, Sixto’s wife California with the family maid and Marielena Esperanza’s best friend her son. Forced to work in a migrant Miguel Hortensia’s son, ranch hand labor camp, Esperanza must learn to Luis Sixto’s brother, town mayor, bank owner rise above her difficult circumstances Isabel Miguel’s cousin, 8 years old and discover what she's truly made of. Modesta Isabel’s mother, Hortensia’s sister-in-law Set in the turbulent 1930's, and based Alfonso Modesta’s husband, Hortensia’s brother on the popular book by Pam Muñoz Marta Modesta’s niece Ryan, Esperanza Rising is a poetic tale of a young girl's triumph over adversity. SPANISH MEANING Esperanza: "Hope" Ramona: "Protector" Luis: (from Louis) "Warrior in Battle" Hortensia: "Gardener" Miguel: "He who is like God" Alfonso: "Eager, noble" Modesta: "Shy, modest" Isabel: "Consecrated to God" Marta: (from Martha) "Lady"
  5. 5. Chapter 1: About the Play 4 THE VINEYARD Aguascalientes, Mexico El Rancho Linda Flor, Esperanza’s home growing up is located in the center of the country. Aguascalientes climate is consistently warm, averaging 66F. It’s also usually dry, with the exception of summer rains. All types of terrain are in the region, including mountains, valleys, plains, and rivers. ACROSS THE BORDER: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Arvin, California The migrant camp, where Hortensia’s family lives is located north of Los Angeles. Arvin has a brutal climate; hot during the summer, with temperatures in the 80's, and cold during the winter with temperatures in the 40's! Temperature variations between night and day also create uncomfortable conditions. Landlocked, with no rivers running through, Arvin is a flat plain with little rainfall; average precipitation is just 12 inches.
  6. 6. 5 Chapter 1: About the Play DRAMATIC STRUCTURE RED ROSES • Protagonist: Esperanza is the protagonist of the Red roses are a major symbol story. She must rise above her father’s death, the in Esperanza Rising, representing burning of their home, the absence of her mother, and growth, uprooting and rebirth. In endure poverty in order to find freedom. history, the red rose is most • Antagonist: Tio Luis is the antagonist of the story. commonly recognized as the symbol for love. This symbol stems from Esperanza and her mother must flee to the United Greek and Roman mythology, in States to escape his hold. He makes it difficult for which the red rose was closely tied Ramona to meet Esperanza in California. to the goddess of love. • Conflict: Esperanza must learn to adapt to a new life as a poor migrant in California, after her father is murdered and house is burned down. She needs to MIGRATION raise money by working at the camps, without being caught, in order to bring her mother from Mexico. Emerson cast member • Climax: Occurs when Miguel brings Ramona to Fernanda Vazquez is a Mexican California at the end of the play. native. Below she elaborates on • Denouement: The resolution occurs in the final her heritage and culture: scene; when Esperanza and Ramona replant the roses “My dad’s job kept us Miguel had brought from their home in Mexico. moving for five years, and in that time we lived in three different countries. To be honest, it was WHAT WOULD YOU BRING? really hard at first. Letting go of your roots is never easy; you feel Esperanza flees to California to escape her uncle: like your identity is being shaken. •If you had to pack up and leave at a moment’s notice, Ultimately you learn to adapt, but what would you bring? Discuss the meaning of this you change a lot. You learn to object and what it expresses about you. integrate bits of the new culture with the old one, and you end up Fernanda has lived in several different cultures: being a weird mix, but quite •If you were traveling to a foreign land, what object unique.” would you bring to represent, and more importantly explain, the culture of the United States?
  7. 7. Chapter 2: Culture and Language 6 SPANGLISH In groups of four to six, invite each student to randomly choose (from a hat, perhaps?) a vocabulary word, or phrase, from the list. Have each group create a story using the words selected. Emphasize dramatic structure, and how each story should include a beginning, middle, and end. Options: •Attempt a scene in “spanglish.” Encourage your students to use as much Spanish as possible. •Have the group write a formal script in class and perform it. •Give them a few minutes to create an outline and then improvise their performance. •Every member of the group must say a line with one of words chosen. It can be the word they picked, or any the group picked- you choose! FUN PHRASES! VOCABULARY Arriba y adelante Up and ahead muñequita doll cobarde coward Viva México mi amor my love ojalá I hope Y tú, qué palillo Long live Mexico mi reina my queen buitre vulture And you’re a toothpick . tío uncle escalera stair Chiquitita bonita Qué latosa es Usted muchacho boy cállate be quiet You’re so noisy Pretty little one pistolero gunman paquetes packages Todos a divertirse Feliz Cumpleaños Have a good time bestia beast correo mail Happy Birthday Híjole. Qué montón de gente Geez. A bunch of people A STUDENT, TEACHER Juega el pollo pelón Play the bald chicken Fernanda Vazquez was a big help by teaching her native language to fellow cast members. “I generally don’t like correcting people when they are trying really hard to get something right. I didn’t feel like a teacher, I felt more like I was someone they could consult when in doubt. My peers and I would just go over the words that they have to say, and we would say them over and over again. Some of them need to write it phonetically, others learn better by memory.”
  8. 8. 7 Chapter 2: Culture and Language FAMILY In the 1930s and today a lot of importance in Mexican culture is placed on family. Both immediate and extended members define family in Mexico. MEN WOMEN Women usually stray little Men have the role of protecting their from the family unit. They are family and keeping them financially stable. responsible for raising the children, They are the ones to have friends outside and running the household. the family and deal with the struggles of the outside world. IMMIGRANTS Abigail Vega, the actress playing Ramona in Emerson’s production, shared her family photographs, taken in 1917. The man below is Abigail’s great-grandfather, Siprian Villareal Benavidas. Born in 1885 on a ranch, he worked there, much like the campesinos in the play. His last name he would have passed down in Mexico is actually Villareal, but in the United States his records indicated that his last name was Benavidas, Abigail’s grandmother's maiden name. The woman above is Abigail’s great-grandmother, Josefina Salinas Rodriguez, and the baby in the photo is her grandmother, Esperanza Benavidas. Abigail’s grandmother was born in 1915, which would have made her 14 in 1929, just 2 years older than our Esperanza. She was born in the U.S. and grew up along the border of Texas and Mexico. In this area, almost no one spoke English, and there was very little connection to American culture at all. It wasn't until the 1930s that the U.S. government began paying attention to what was happening in that Texas area and started implementing laws regarding English in the schools. For example, Abigail’s grandmother would have graduated high school (if she did at all) in 1933, and yet she never spoke a word of English!
  9. 9. Chapter 2: Culture and Language 8 THE FLAG The colors in Mexico’s flag represent: • Green: the Independence Movement • White: purity of the Catholic Faith • Red: tribute to the Spaniards who fought for Independence THE EMBLEM According to legend, the gods advised the Aztecs to establish their city at the place where they saw an eagle, perched on a prickly pear tree, devouring a serpent. They saw this To get the students started, mythical eagle on a marshy lake that is now the have them focus on the idea of Zócaloor main plaza in Mexico City. creating a country: What is important? • principles THE ISLAND • lifestyle • level of community Separate the class into groups of four to five, • terrain to create their “island.” • industry/ economy • Have each group create a flag on an 8.5x11in, or • religion larger, piece of paper, representing life on their • opinion of the other islands “island.” • and ask your students to list more! • On a separate sheet of paper, write what each part (color, symbol, picture) represents in the flag.
  10. 10. 9 Chapter 2: Culture and Language CLOTHING In the 1930s, all Mariachis wore an ORIGIN OF THE NAME adapted traje de charro, directly translated to a cowboy costume. The outfit traditionally Coming from Mexico, the included a waist-length jacket and tight word Mariachi is named after the wool pants. Both were usually decoratively wood used to build the village embroidered and fashioned with silver performer’s stage.   buttons or cut leather designs. The pants had a slight slit at the ankle, to fit over a LISTEN! short riding boot. Here are some websites THE TRADITION that play great Mariachi music for you and your class to listen to: Mariachi music commonly deals with the themes of betrayal, lost love and vengeance; however, the music itself is characterized by a rhythmical flow of Roxanne, Emerson’s Director, sounds involving Spanish language and found Hector while he was playing heritage. with a local mariachi. You can read and hear more about Hector at: THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE The roots of Mariachi music are planted in nostalgia from rural life, a time of honor, tradition, modernization, and peace. Music has always been a form of expression: •Using any creative form (drawing, a poem, lyrics, movement, etc.) have your students creatively express their “roots.” •After, in small groups of three to four, have them share their creations. Ask the students to explain the connection between the art form and their roots. •To wrap up, try an open discussion guided by the students. Encourage them to point out details they noticed or liked about a group member’s, and/or their own, creation.
  11. 11. Chapter 2: Culture and Language 10 THE MARIACHIS The four Mariachis in Esperanza Rising are all well-versed musicians with a passion for music. Here is a little bit more about the musicians, and the instruments they play: DISCUSSION QUESTIONS Accordion- Musical Theatre BFA Junior Nathan Chang from Nashville NC has been playing the Try this as a clarinet for eight years and started learning the piano class, or a group, just a year ago. Nathan will have been playing the accordion activity: for just six weeks at the show’s opening; however, he mastered the instrument in about two weeks to prepare for rehearsals. • What kind of music do you listen Violin- Musical Theatre BFA Junior Nick Lee from to? Pick one artist Kansas had no experience with the Spanish language or song that prior to Esperanza Rising. He approached learning the everyone in the lyrics by concentrating on singing sounds and was group likes (or can coached by Fernanda Vazquez. But Nick’s violin skills needed at least settle on.) no instruction; he has been playing for nine years. • Why is that song likeable? Is it the Vihuela- An instrument similar to a guitar, the vihuela has lyrics, melody, five strings and is played with the musician’s fingernails. Dru rhythm, etc? Serkes is a Musical Theatre BFA Junior from Connecticut. Like Nathan, learned the instrument for the show. Dru’s • Why do you musical training includes a year of bass guitar, five years of think people listen drums, and another five years on the guitar. His guitar to music? experience helped him adapt to the vihuela he plays in • What do you Esperanza Rising. think would happen if music Guitar- The show’s Musical Director, Héctor Martínez didn’t exist in the Morales, has been playing the guitar since he was 13 years old. world? Currently, Morales teaches music full time in Cambridge and also freelances as a composer and performer. Formally trained in classical music composition, guitar, and piano performance, this is only his second show as the Musical Director.
  12. 12. Chapter 3: Immigration THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION 11 The long, bloody, and chaotic war began with Porfirio Díaz, the ruler of Mexico since 1876. In 1908, he declared that Mexico was ready for democracy, and accordingly, he would not seek another presidential term. Díaz’s withdrawal resulted in several detrimental events: THE BEGINNING •Francisco Madero led the uprising that 1910 - 1929 started the war. Includes the years that Esperanza lived with • Mexico’s population suffered a decline her family in Aguascalientes, Mexico. During that of 360,000 people. time, a large number of Mexicans left their country • A major drop occurred in the country’s to seek opportunities in the United States. agricultural output. • U.S. Population: 106,521,537 • Black markets flourished in cities, • 2,132,000 unemployed, unemployment 5.2% funding and perpetuating corrupt organizations. • Average annual earnings $1,236 • Almost all banking and credit systems within Mexico disappeared. “NEXT!” Feel free to photocopy the card (right,) or simply write a similar format on the board, for each student in your class to fill out individually. • Stress the significance held in this little piece of paper by exploring the thoughts of immigrants. Discuss the projected image of the United States as the ideal country and life. Have students articulate the good and bad of life in the U.S. United States of America • This exercise is a Immigrant Validation Form perfect opportunity for Name: Gender: drama in the classroom. DOB: Place of Birth: Your students are Postal Address: Ethnicity: immigrants from Mexico Marital Status: in the 1930s. The teacher …………………………………………………...………...………………………………………... can play the Immigration Height: Weight: Officer creating and Eye color: Hair color: playing out different …………………………………………………...…………………………………………………... scenarios that immigrants Employment Details: Medical History: may have encountered at the border. …………………………………………………...…………………………………………………... Official use only:  
  13. 13. Chapter 3: Immigration 12 THE MEXICAN BORDER Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Across the Wire: life and hard times on the Mexican border, recounts his vivid memory: “We met the many ambassadors of poverty: lice, scabies, tapeworm, pinworm, ring worm, fleas, and crab lice. We met diphtheria, meningitis, typhoid, polio, turista, tuberculosis, hepatitis, VD, WORKING LIFE impetigo, measles, chronic hernia, malaria, and When Esperanza, Hortensia, and whooping cough. We met madness and demon Miguel fled to California for work and a possession.” better life, they met the economic hardships U.S. RESPONSE of the Great Depression. Considering the fact 1930 – 1934 that immigrants were known as “cheap During the time that Esperanza, Miguel, labor,” they faced the fear of not being paid and Hortensia were living and working at the enough to support their families or of being camps in California, the U.S. deported more replaced by another person who would work than four hundred thousand Mexicans. for less. • U.S. Population: 123,188,000 Consistently classified as “unskilled” • Unemployment rises to 25% workers, Mexicans were only considered for • Average annual earnings: $1,368 labor-intensive jobs, and were thought of by   employers as expendable. Strikes were prevalent in the struggle for better working IMMIGRATION TODAY conditions and often turned violent. Michelle Macedo, another Emerson cast member, has a personal experience with immigration; her father is a U.S. immigrant from India. “The youngest in his family, my father is from Goa, India, previously a Portuguese colony before India gained its independence after WWII. Affected by the colonization, the state of Goa still recognizes three languages- Hindi, a native dialect, and Portuguese. Religion in the state was also influenced; my father is a Catholic, although most people assume he is Hindu, solely because he is from India. Moving to the United States for graduate school, my father was the first in his family to move out of India and the first not to have an arranged marriage. My first language was Hindi, but I forgot it pretty quickly because I did not keep up practice. I have been going to India almost every Christmas, and it is still strange. Strangers think that I am a westerner who is unaware of the Indian culture, even though all of my family is Indian. Esperanza Rising makes me feel very appreciative of diversity in America and how many people have different backgrounds. I currently live in California, and travel to Mexico often to embrace and explore the culture. My traveling and heritage has made me develop an immense respect for immigrants.”
  14. 14. Chapter 4: The Production 13 NOTES FROM THE DIRECTOR Dear Teachers, Like you, I am a teacher. I know the long hours you put into your work and the great energy it takes to touch lives like you do. In these times, I also realize that it is harder than ever to foster opportunities for your students…busses, permission forms, scheduling, etc. Therefore, I would like to thank you deeply for bringing your students to see our production of Esperanza Rising! Many of you, I am sure, have read this book several times with multiple groups of young people. I am sure that more than a few of you consider it one of your favorites. I understand! Pam Muñoz Ryan has written a piece rich with poetry, emotion and symbolism. I like to think that Esperanza Rising helps young people to think about change, growth, and what gives every one of us hope in our lives. You will find that Lynn Alvarez’s dramatic adaptation is quite different from the book. However, my awareness and appreciation of the book TYA? influenced my vision of the play and was part of the Representing the United evolution of the production process. We hope that you States in the International Association will enjoy the production alongside of your students, and of Theater for Children and Young People, that you and your students will leave the theatre thinking Theatre for Young Audiences/USA about migration, oppression and hope! We further hope (TYA/USA) is a national service that the production will serve as a catalyst for dialogue in organization promoting theater for your classrooms. We will be eager to hear from you and children and young adults by: your students, so let us know what you and your students • Improving the reputation, and thought! visibility, of theater among young audiences Sinceramente, • Connecting professional managing Roxanne Schroeder-Arce and artistic directors, artists, arts agencies, and theaters to encourage Director quality theater for young people.
  15. 15. 14 Chapter 4: The Production THE CAST Peter Andersen Ensemble  Chris Brindley Agent/Ensemble Olivia Brownlee Okie Mother Noel Carey Okie Father Nathan Chang Mariachi Vinny Cueva Luis Alyssa Gomez Isabel/Ensemble Victoria Gomez Hortensia Adrian Hernandez Don Sixto Sara Holt Modesta/Ensemble Chelsey Lebel Esperanza Nick Lee Mariachi Michelle Macedo Servant Girl/Ensemble Vanessa Moyen Ensemble Jessica Naimy Marielena/Ensemble Chris Nicolosi Okie Boy Nora Reilly Worker/Ensemble Esperanza Rising stage manager, Helen Miguel Septién Miguel Bennett with a mariachi at a company Dru Serkes Mariachi outing early this October! Kameron Tarlow Alfonso/Ensemble Hannah Tehrani Worker/Ensemble Fernanda Vazquez Worker/Ensemble Abigail Vega Ramona Jill Waters Marta/Ensemble PRODUCTION STAFF ARTISTIC STAFF Stage Manager Helen Bennett Assistant Stage Manager Steven Kaplan Director Roxanne Schroeder-Arce 2nd Asst. Stage Manager Lindsay Eberly Music Director Héctor Martínez Morales 2nd Asst. Stage Manager Kevin Dwyer Scenic Designer Crystal Tiala Production Supervisor Rachel Enright Costume Designer Rafael Jean Production Carpenter Catrin Evans Lighting Designer Tracy Werheimer Master Electrician Brian Choinski Sound Designer Brendon Doyle Production Sound Engineer Erik Skovgaard Props Master Michele Teevan Scenic Artist Helen McCarthy Assistant Director Chris Brindley Study Guide Coordinator Courtney Wrenn Dramaturgs Cheyenne Postell Justine Spingler
  16. 16.   SOURCES Chapter 2 con. Table of Contents Origin of the Name information Pam Munoz Ryan picture and information: Gonzalez, Silvia. Mexico, The Meeting of Two Scholastic Inc. Pam Munoz Ryan. July 2009 Cultures. New York: Higgins and Associates, 1991. <>. Other mariachi information —. Pam Munz Ryan. August 2009 Shorris, Earl. The Life and Times of Mexico. New < York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006. ryan/>. Chapter 3 Lynne Alvarez information: The Mexican Revolution information Peterson, Jane T. and Suzanne Bennett. Women Joseph, Gilbert M. and Timothy J. Henderson. The playwrights of diversity: a bio-bibliographical sourcebook. Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham: Santa Barbara: Greenwood Press, 1997. Peterson and Duke University Press, 2003. Bennett 1910-1929, 1930-1934 information: Whitley, Peggy. American Cultural History. August Chapter 1 2009<>. The Vineyard information Chapter 4 Advameg Inc. Aguascalientes. September 2009 TYA information: < ASSITEJ International. Theatre for Young Audiences. entes-M-xico/Aguascalientes.html>. September 2009 <>.   Southern California information Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Arvin, California. September 2009 <,_California>. EMERSON STAGE Red roses information: Types of Flowers. Meaning and Symbolism of Red Rose Flower. September 2009 PRODUCTION STAFF < meaning_of_rose_red_flower.html>. Producing Director Benny Sato Ambush Chapter 2 Family, Women, Men information General Manager Julie Hennrikus Gordon, Milton M., ed. Mexican Americans. Englewood Director of Production Bonnie Baggesen Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1970. The Flag, Emblem information Production Manager Deb Acquavella Inside Mexico. Inside Mexico. September 2009 Technical Director Keith Cornelius <>. Technical Supervisor Caroline Mulcahy EMERSON COLLEGE • The Master of Arts degree in THEATRE EDUCATION PROGRAM Theatre Education is for students who wish to pursue careers and opportunities that lie at • The Bachelor of Arts degree in the intersection of theatre and education. As Theatre Education involves the use of theatre such, this program provides professional in a variety of educative settings, in addition training in both theatre and education, and in to formal K-12 teaching. Some students will the uses of theatre and drama as vehicles of choose to pursue certification for K-12 education in a multitude of settings. Teachers of Drama; all use the program to The graduate program is designed develop interests and expertise in a wide with a central core of courses; within the range of theatre areas. Students in Theatre central core, there are three course streams, Education often do two full years of acting Theatre Teacher, Education Theatre, and work at Emerson, and with the permission of Community, Theatre Education. With the Acting faculty, can do up to two additional work in areas of special interest to additional semesters of work. Students students, Emerson’s program supports a seeking licensure must also complete the broad range for individuals to meet their Educator Licensure requirements. career goals.