The Apollinaire Theatre is preparing to host two outdoor plays this July in Mary O’Malley Park that will address immigration issues, one that will be for young audiences and one that will be for adults – both directed by Apollinaire’s Danielle Fauteux Jacques.
“They’re both very fun and very short and they have some thematic crossover with both having immigration themes,” said Jacques. “We love doing the play in the park every year. It’s a beautiful place to be on a summer night. People like to come out and see the play and have a picnic, maybe watching the moon rise over the Tobin Bridge. Even some of the distracting elements like the boats add to the whole experience. We find it’s a good way to introduce people to Chelsea. I don’t know what people expect to find in Chelsea, but they always say it’s not a play out in Mary O’Malley Park.”
That said, the company is seeking funding for the play – as they don’t charge for the annual outdoor performances. It’s often hard for them to secure funding for the popular performances. With that in mind, Jacques said Apollinaire met with the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to get their Kickstarter funding campaign off the ground.
“The fact is, it’s always hard to get funding for our outdoor performances,” said Jacques. “We’ll see how this kickstarter campaign goes. Hopefully we’ll have the support necessary so we don’t take a huge hit. It’s a fun show and it’s the most expensive show we do and, therefore, it’s always a challenge to get the funding we need.”
The immigrant themes, she said, were something that they felt mirrored the city and could spark dialogue.
“Chelsea is an immigrant community and a big part of our identity here,” she said. “We’re excited to do this outdoors because they create this dialog about immigration issues, and we typically get our most diverse and broad audience at these outdoor events.”
The first play is called called ‘Bocon,’ and is intended for young audiences – and is performed simultaneously in both English and Spanish.
¡Bocón!, a fable filled with humor and mysticism and song, tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel who flees a repressive military regime in Central America for Los Angeles.
A natural storyteller and irrepressible “big mouth” or bocón, Miguel loses his voice when his parents are taken, and he begins a metaphorical journey north to the City of Angels. Along the way he meets up with an unusual traveling companion, La Llorona, the legendary “Weeping Woman” of Mexican and Central American mythology. Through their magical friendship, Miguel finds his voice and the courage to cross the border to a new life.
“Bocon is written as a children’s play and uses both English and Spanish together,” said Jacques. “We’ve generally had more children on Spanish-language nights and this year we’re experimenting with something different. Bocon is English dominant, but has Spanish mixed in with it. As it is written for young audiences, it has a lot of music and is written with magical elements, which is common in Latin American literature. It’s really about a child’s metaphysical journey to find his voice. I really think people will like that. There’s a little bit of everything in it.”
She also said that – in the near future – they will put out a call for children to help out in the play.
“We are going to be asking children to participate,” she said. “They will be able to sign up on a per show basis to work with us. There will be a quick rehearsal before the show and at the end of the play they will be able to go on stage.”
Bocon begins its run on July 10 at 7:30 p.m. and runs every Thursday and Sunday throughout the month at 7:30 p.m.
The second show is called ‘Invasion’ and is written by a Swedish author who examines the world of immigrants and the attitudes applied to them at times.
That show is primarily for adult audiences, Jacques said, and will run about 90 minutes – requiring the audience to make one move during the show. It will run alternately in English and Spanish on different nights.
“The author of the play is Swedish and has one parent that is Swedish and another that is Tunisian,” Jacques said. “It’s not the easiest play to weave into a single story line. It’s about how we perceive and misperceive people and their lives when we don’t really know much about them. It’s fun and also fast running and a comedy.”
Its run starts on Wednesday, July 9, and runs throughout the month also. It will be in English on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Friday, it will be performed in Spanish. It will start at 7:30 p.m. on all nights.
It’s the 11th year that Apollinaire Theatre has staged the popular outdoor summer series, and coordinators said it is the longest schedule yet – with 15 shows in total.
“Every year we try to expand it and little more,” said Jacques. “This is the first year with 15 shows, and we’re excited about that.”