Pasadena Neighbors Write, Will Perform New Play for Neighborhood at Weekend Block Party

Published : Wednesday, February 24, 2016 | 4:58 AM

Neighbors in the Summit-Maple neighborhood have been practicing their new play, “Lottery” for several weeks now as part of the San Gabriel Valley-wide Theatre Initiative, “My History, My Way (“Mi Historia, Mi Manera”). The short play, produced under the leadership of the Pasadena Playhouse, will be performed in English and Spanish as part of a day-long block party on Summit Avenue, this Saturday, February 27, starting at 11 a.m.

Following the play’s performance will be an interactive theatre experience led by the play’s director Hector Aristizabal to directly involve members of the community in creating their own play right on the spot.

“Mi Manera is a fantastic way for us to learn about each other,” said District 5 Councilmember Victor Gordo, in whose district the performance will take place. “The telling and hearing of our own stories can promote a better understanding of our individual challenges, hopes and aspirations, for one another and for our families.”

Gordo became interested in the activities of The Pasadena Playhouse last fall when his office purchased 150 tickets to its production of Real Women Have Curves. Gordo is himself a Latino immigrant, and has lived in Pasadena since his family moved here when he was five. He attended Pasadena schools including District 5’s Madison Elementary School.

Recently at Madison School, The Pasadena Playhouse presented a workshop with the multi-genre, multi-cultural Grammy winning band Ozomatli as part of its development process for a new stage musical about the band’s history. At that workshop, author and playwright Velina Hasu Houston and audiences asked questions of the band as they played songs inspired by their responses.

The Pasadena Playhouse also presented a Forum Theatre play there last year, co-created with ImaginAction. The Pasadena Playhouse met lots of diverse local neighbors from District 5 on that day, and were introduced to their stories.

Gordo’s office, through its field representative Vannia de la Cuba, who also attended Madison, then sparked the idea of bringing a Forum Theatre event to their District.

“An important part of building community is neighbors understanding neighbors, and Mi Historia, Mi Manera is a fantastic way for us to learn about each other,” Gordo said. “The telling and hearing of our own stories can promote a better understanding of our individual challenges, hopes and aspirations for one another and our families. It is my hope that through this greater understanding we will see true and lasting community growth. ”

The Pasadena Playhouse Associate Artistic Director, Seema Sueko, says “Since launching Mi Historia, Mi Manera in 2014, the residents of District 5 have become wonderful partners of The Pasadena Playhouse. I particularly benefitted from their support of my production of Real Women Have Curves earlier this season. This block party will include chalk art, a photo booth, theatre games, great food and freebies in addition to performances of the community-devised play. It’s our way of thanking and honoring the artistry of our neighbors in District 5.”

Through a series of local partnerships, Mi Historia, Mi Manera aims to increase participation of Latina/o adults in the arts in the San Gabriel Valley.

The block party will also feature free giveaways and 2 food trucks, which will all have special lower priced offerings for this one of a kind event.

The play is part of the Playhouse’s Wells Fargo Theatrical Diversity Project, which is dedicated to promoting culturally and generationally diverse programming. It will be performed twice—at noon and 3 p.m.—during the day-long party, which begins at 11 a.m.