CREEDE — As the curtains closed for Creede Repertory Theatre’s 2022 season, one of its other programs hit the ground running and has, to this point, visited six states and has performed this year’s production of “Casa Alfonsa” for 9,000 students.
The program is in its fifth week and is about one-third of the way through. By the end of the program, CRT’s Youth Outreach crew hopes to interact with 40,000 students in rural areas throughout the western United States.
The Youth Outreach performers use their expertise in theatrical education to teach students in underserved areas about the importance of theatre. This year’s production focuses on the need to deal with conflict resolution and regulate their emotions in stressful situations.
The book included with the program is written by Diana Grisanti, who also wrote the lyrics for the play itself. Music is by Emiliano Messiez and the play is directed by Ismael Lara, Jr. and choregraphed by Bethany Eilean Talley.
According to the description, “Cousins Bruna and Fernando belong to the third generation of a busy restaurant family. They spend their days together, doing homework in the kitchen and making Shirley Temples behind the bar. It’s a pretty good life! That is, until their beloved grandmother, Alfonsa, passes away. Not only was Alfonsa an amazing chef, but she was also the glue that held the family together. Now her grown children—Bruna’s mom and Fernando’s dad — won’t stop fighting. It’s up to the cousins (and of course, Alfonsa’s ghost!) to help the grownups navigate their grief, regulate their emotions, and keep the restaurant afloat. Casa Alfonsa is an upbeat musical featuring song, dance, and many, many puppets.”
Now in its 39th season, the program is growing each year. Right now, the team that makes up the Youth Outreach Tour goes to schools throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada and Texas, with the hopes that more schools will learn about and sign up for the tour. Each school gets the chance to see the play and each student receives a book based on the production to take home.
This year CRT’s educational program is also offering a Tiny Tour which focuses on audiences in the 5-and-younger students in preschools.
“The Tiny Tour is an engaging, interactive performance designed specifically for our youngest learners, ages 5 and under. The Tiny Tour can be performed right in your preschool classroom or young learner space,” organizers stated.
It is a way to include younger audiences and CRT brings the program right to their classroom.
This year, the production being offered is titled “Ms. Joy” and according to the description, “Ms. Joy isn’t particularly joyful. She has a set routine that she sticks to every day. There is a time and place for everything. Until, one day, she receives a surprise visit from an unexpected canine friend, and he turns her routine upside down.
“Running approximately 25 minutes, ‘Ms. Joy’ is a story for our youngest learners (ages 5 and under), told through clowning, puppetry, and sound. It teaches students the power of play, friendship, and laughter.”
Both programs are a one-of-a-kind opportunity for classrooms around the western US and a chance for students to be engaged in the theatrical arts.
In addition to the outreach tours, the theatre will also be offering Friday Day Camps starting on Oct. 14. For more information, visit www.creederep.org.