By Lydia Ellis-Curry
One of my favorite performance experiences with Jester was in the spring of 2016. A large percentage of the student body we performed for and visited with was Latino. I was able to use my bilingual skills to read the opening greeting in Spanish for the kindergarten classes. After we performed, I was able to use my Spanish inside the classrooms, by asking questions and engaging with the students in their primary language. It felt so good to be able to connect with the kids in Spanish to discuss what they loved about the show, and what their favorite part of school was.
Being able to perform live theatre for this specific population of Portland’s youth was a major win for Jester Educational Theater– knowing that the magic of theatre translates beyond the verbal barriers, that the children were able to participate in the joy of live musical theatre, even if they missed out on some of the more subtle jokes or references.
Jester Educational Theatre continues to bring live, entertaining, and informative plays to kids throughout the Portland area. The hour performance may appear to just be a silly reprieve from standardized tests and homework, but it is also a way to introduce young children from a myriad of backgrounds and cultures to the performing arts for the first time. As an actor who first discovered my passion for performing at age 5, I do not take the job of bringing song and dance into elementary schools lightly. Knowing that Jester may be what inspires a life-long love affair with the arts is an invaluable gift for both performer and the administration choosing to open these doors for their students.
Bearing in mind our recent shift in government leadership, and the language and conversation surrounding inclusion or exclusion of immigrant and minority populations, the arts become even more necessary in bringing diverse student bodies together in one room to laugh and learn from live theatre. Los ninos son el futuro. Si se puede.