La Gringa: First Bilingual Play at Leyden
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This year’s winter play, “La Gringa”, tells the story of a Puerto Rican girl born and raised in New York trying to find herself through her culture.
Something unique about this year’s production is that there are two shows in English as well as two shows in Spanish. This is the first time a play has been put on at Leyden in a language other than English. This means that there are two different casts, one English speaking and one Spanish speaking.
“La Gringa” follows María Elena García as she struggles to fit in, both in New York and Puerto Rico. María goes on a trip to Puerto Rico to visit her family with high hopes of finding her roots and connecting with her homeland.
While there, she finds she feels very disconnected from her Puerto Rican culture, as everyone there considers her an American. María is not welcomed by her family, and after falling in love with the island and deciding to stay, her intentions are questioned by them.
Because she isn’t considered American while in New York and is treated like a Puerto Rican there, she feels as though she can’t fit in anywhere. “La Gringa” is the story of how María struggles to find her identity through her culture and her family.
“La Gringa” was originally written in Spanish, then later translated into English after being performed in New York in 1996 in series of Latino Plays.
Two years ago, when director Bill Mitchell was looking for plays to perform this year, he came across “La Gringa”, saw it was available in both languages, and thought, “What if we put it on in English and Spanish?” Seeing as Leyden has a much more diverse community now than it did a few years ago, many more kids attend Leyden whose primary language is Spanish.
Mr. Mitchell said he’s excited for this production because he’s wants to see a Spanish speaking audience and people in the community come out to see the plays. He wants it to be seen, “not as a restricted experience, but as an opening experience.”
“La Gringa” is a drama, but Mr. Mitchell said people will definitely laugh and cry.
Both English and Spanish productions are being performed in the West Leyden High School Auditorium.
Opening night is Thursday November 21st, and “La Gringa” will be performed in Spanish at 7:00 PM.
The shows in English are scheduled for 7:00 PM on Friday, November 22nd and at 6:00 PM on Saturday, November 23. A short break will be held after the 6:00 PM Saturday show, and then following the break the final performance in Spanish will start at 8:00 PM.
Tickets are $2 for students and $3 for adults.