(1988) This was the first play created by PUENTE. With the subtitle Stories of Unexpected Journeys, it told the story of immigrant women. To produce this play, Lina de Guevara, artistic director and founder of PUENTE, also an immigrant from Chile, got together with five women from El Salvador, Chile and Nicaragua. They did not have any previous experience in theatre, but they were all eager to tell their stories. Performers in this project were Aura Alberto, Magdalena Diaz, Yolanda Huerta, Ana Strauss y Emperatriz Toledo. Maureen Mackintosh designed costumes, masks and props, and Patrick Pothier created the soundscape.
This play was very important for PUENTE. The play was rehearsed and produced in six months, and during that period ways of working were established and rehearsal and research methodologies were discovered. These served as a basis for future work and shaped the group.
At that time it was decided that PUENTE’s plays would be performed in English and not in Spanish. We agreed that our intention was to tell our experiences to the majority of Canadians and that we didn’t want to remain isolated in a Spanish speaking ghetto.
It was also considered important to create our plays after an intense period of research through interviews and workshops, in the community of Latin American women, so that we could reflect their experience with integrity. A questionary was designed in such a way that its answers would provide us with images, stories and suggestions that could be staged. Women talked about their feelings of isolation, their struggle to adapt to the new country, of the pain experienced because of separation from family and friends, and of the impact that immigration had in their family relationships. Because the majority of the actresses’ English was precarious, image, music and movement became extremely important staging devices.
“I wasn’t born here” was invited to the “Women in View” Festival in Vancouver, 1989, to the “Bread and Butter” Canadian Popular Theatre Alliance Festival in Guelph in 1989, and toured widely in BC, performing in Victoria, Burnaby, Harrison Hot Springs, Surrey, Duncan, Salt Spring Island, Campbell River and Courtenay.
24 years after!
Excerpt of a letter from Hellen Diaz, Magdalena Diaz’s daughter, received on November 21, 2012:
“That play (“I wasn’t born here”) brings back a memory of a beautiful experience in my mom’s life. I would say that the most powerful thing it has brought me, is the ability to relive my mom’s experience through watching the play.”
“I was so young and therefore, I don’t remember this time. Watching and hearing my mom and all the other brave women was a life changing experience for me, as well as thought provoking. Growing up in Victoria we are in this little bubble, protected from the realities of the outside word. I always heard my mom talk about what she went through in El Salvador but it is different when you see it so vividly in a format such as a theatrical performance. It sinks in much deeper and becomes more real.”
“Thank you Lina for sharing your website with me. It brought a smile to my face.
All the best to you,
Documentary: Creating Bridges