A single boy faces the audience while vowing to overcome adversity and make something of himself, as a lone guitar in the background strums the beat to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”
His is only one of over a dozen stories told in “Las Memorias,” a play which showcases the lives of 20 Latino children from Washington state high schools in Warden, Everett, Pateros, and Mabton.
“Las Memorias” debuted at Jones Theatre last night in Daggy Hall and will have another showing tonight at 7 p.m. with free admission.
Senior mechanical engineering major Tyler Hassett attended the debut of the show. He said he came to see a side of a culture he was not normally exposed to.
Hassett said the show could be therapeutic, and believed anyone could connect to the stories presented, which he believed were “universal.”
Each of the students in the performance wrote and submitted their own personal story. All of the pieces were then transcribed into a theater format and scripted by WSU Professor Ben Gonzales.
Gonzales said the show touches on intimate and often taboo subjects in the hopes that audiences will connect emotionally with the students onstage.
“We wanted to find out, what stories do we have to tell?” he said. “Positive things shape who we are. Negative things happen to us that we have to overcome.”
Viewers can expect to gain a greater appreciation for different cultures, according to Gonzales. He described the power of theater as “unifying” and believes “Las Memorias” teaches lessons about bridging cultures.
He also praised the students for their courage in sharing their stories.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” Gonzales said.
Many of the stories presented focus on overcoming abuse, stereotypes and familial struggles as well as personal development and goal setting.
Addy Acosta, a student from Warden shares her story in the performance. She sees it as an opportunity to break down cultural barriers.
“I love my culture, just as you love yours,” Acosta said. “In the end, we will find that we have more in common than in differences.”
Director Mary Trotter said that some students were originally nervous about sharing intimate details about their lives, but most have become more open over time.
“It’s always hard at first, but … it can also be very cathartic,” Trotter said. “Some of the actors were hesitant, but in the end they understand that part of the reason we do theatre like this is to help others heal as well as ourselves.”
Trotter said she believes audiences will be able to connect to the stories and apply meaning to their own lives.
She emphasized that the students in the performance are not the only ones with stories to tell.
“We do work like this so people know they are not alone,” she said. “My hope is that viewers would leave asking questions about their own journeys, and … reflect on what positive, or negative for that matter, choices they have made throughout life.”