Wednesday, November 01, 2006

drama at domingo savio

I've seen plays in the theatres downtown Chicago, I've crouched mesmorized in the velvety shadows of the Vienna opera house, and I've attended my fair share of high school musicals and college performances, but I've never witnessed such anticipation or self-gratification from actors as I did at Domingo Savio last week. You would have thought that the kids were about to appear before some temperamental queen and their lives depended on their performance. Instead, more than 25 children enacted two plays in the dining room-turned-theatre, the window treatments becoming stage curtains, the kitchen becoming backstage. Friends and relatives crammed into the front room to support their young thespians, ready for the culmination of months of practice.

I arrived to find the club in chaos with kids running around with half-painted faces, tias and tios running after them , Tia J giving last minute tutorials on the "stage," and volunteers hanging curtains and adjusting lights. Once gathered together, costumed and decorated, all the children stood in a circle. Tia J asked that everyone close their eyes and think about all of the preparation for this day and the upcoming performance. Some children confessed to the group how nervous they felt, as they had never acted in front of an audience before, others just bit their nails and fidgeted. Tia J offered supportive compliments, and reminded them of their confidence and ability. With that, it was time to begin.

The older group acted first, the younger second, each child with their own chance to shine in the lights and command the room's attention. Mistakes didn't exist: they were brushed off without the slightest notice. Whether the children had 5 years or 15 years, everyone acted seriously and sincerely, transforming the dining room into the most captivating stage and capturing everyone's hearts. The end of the plays marked an especially emotional moment as two girls bid farewell to the club. After having spent over one year at Club Domingo Savio, the director Tia O had told me, the girls had made huge strides in behavior and confidence-- the theatre project being very influential.

Domingo Savio is a community center, providing children a safe and stimulating place to stay after school until early evening. Once a week, a theatre teacher opens up the old garage behind the center, which she has turned into a makeshift stage. Donated dresses and old suits have created a costume bank, and the kids build inventive and elaborate props using things like egg cartons and old water bottles. Right now, Domingo Savio is raising funds to rebuild the old garage into a brand new, well-equipped theatre for all of the community to enjoy. Obviously this huge undertaking requires much support. If you or anyone you know would like to help, please contact me for more information.

Please view the photographs from this spectacular event, and spread the word about the Domingo Savio Theatre Project. If you'd like to read more about Domingo Savio, please read the article from September 6.


Anonymous said...

Los ninios son bellisimos! Como les fue? Que obra presentaron? Me encanta sus sonrisas!:)

Nicole said...

Hola Christie,
Your photos are amazing, and it sounds like you're having the experience of a lifetime. I'm so glad you're doing this.
My love and support,
Nicole (cousin Nikki:)