We're excited to introduce our company's work by sharing the development of a world-premiere play that speaks to everything we stand for. With some amazing collaborators, we're exploring new forms, stories that haven't been told, and we're speaking to young people today.
We're happy to share our journey with you!
Since March of 2020, even before In Other People’s Shoes Productions was taking shape as a company, a project was also developing. In pre-COVID times, Murry had invited master playwright José Cruz González to create a musical play for MainStreet Theatre Company, and had been awarded a grant from the NEA to develop and produce it.
When the pandemic upended those plans, the creative team, which included Director Robert Castro and Musical Director Cynthia Reifler Flores, agreed that despite not having a home, they wanted to continue to meet and work together. The original idea we’d discussed for the play didn’t seem right for the new times we were living in, and our discussions and explorations led José to conceive a new piece: Pia’s Wondrous Adventures In Tlaxlandia: A musical, toy theatre, puppet, graphic novel mash-up for a brief digital age.
Robert and Murry have continued meeting and working with José to develop the piece, with the support and help of wonderful collaborators. Our goal is to include feedback from young people as the project develops, and to eventually share the finished piece with school classrooms as well as families.
More development news coming for 2022!
We were delighted that José was one of the inaugural grantees of REIMAGINE, a new initiative that aims to support the development and visibility of new works for young audiences by BIPOC playwrights.
We're thrilled that José's artistry was supported and recognized by the field of Theatre for Young Audiences, and feel fortunate to continue to work with him on the story of Pia, which we've grown to love deeply.
In Other People’s Shoes Productions is grateful for the generosity and open hearts of all of the artists, teachers, children and experts who have played such an important role in the process.
Thanks to all who joined us the week of December 6 - 10, 2021 at the TYA/USA National Conference, where you were able learn more about our fall/winter process!
Under the auspices of the Chicanx Teatro Ensemble, which is spearheaded by Robert at the University of California, San Diego, a group of MFA Theatre design students spent the spring 2021 quarter embarked on an exploratory workshop of “episode 1” – concentrating on unpacking new forms of storytelling, as described in the subtitle of the piece. In addition to José, Robert and Murry, the students were joined at each session by master puppeteer Johanna Smith.
This exploration, along with a Q & A, was presented as part of the Initiative for Digital Exploration of the Arts & Sciences/Calit 2 Festival on June 3rd.
The student exploration also led to a "collaboratory" with the UCSD Center on Global Justice, and we’re continuing to explore ways to use the piece to connect and partner with the community at the CASA FAMILIAR Community Station in San Ysidro on the U.S.-Mexican border.
Pia’s Wondrous Adventures in Tlaxlandia begins with a young, Latinx girl named Pia, mourning the recent death of her neighbor and best friend Mr. Jesse from COVID-19. The play explores how children negotiate loss and healing through new friends, and learning that loved ones always remain in your heart, while celebrating the human spirit and unlikely heroes.
As Pia mourns Mr. Jesse, a mysterious Hummingbird Wizard calls upon her to help his beloved Tlaxlandia, a mythical Meso-American world, where plants and birds speak in an ancient language.
Pia’s journey to save this magical world will challenge her heart and soul as she confronts Lord Ocelotl, the Jaguar Lord of the Night and defeats the Empress Elvirus, to restore Tlaxlandia to its former natural beauty.
Hummingbird image by Harry Foster (UCSD exploratory workshop)
Puppets designed by Johanna Smith as part of the ReImagine workshop process