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Performance as Education

'Las Memorias' production comes to Big Bend

8/18/2011 - Warden High School Students help write play

MOSES LAKE - "Last Memorias 2011," a live performance featuring high school students from Warden, Mabton, and Pateros high schools, makes two stops at Big Bend Community College this week.

The students perform the play at Big Bend Community College's Wallensterin Theater at 7 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Aug. 26.

The performance is part of a college readiness program sponsored by Washington State University.

"We take students from the central part of Washington and they write essays and stories about their lives from questions that come from college scholarship and admissions applications," said John Fraire, vice president for student affairs and enrollment at Washington State University.

Fraire, a playwright and Washington state arts commisioner, took excerpts from those essays and stories and made them the script for "Las Memorias 2011."

While the program started at Warden High School in 2009 and incorporated elements of thrater, this is the first time the students' performance has taken on this level of sophistication and professionalism, he said.

Fraire recruited AnaMaria Correa, from New York, to direct the performance. Correa also collaborated with Fraire on the final script.

"The show is about empowerment, power, reaching your goals and believing that anything is possible," she said.

Performance skills, such as public speaking and appearing confident, are more important for college students than most people realize, said Fraire.

"I think a lot of live very much is performance," he said. "Standing up in class and asking a professor a question is a performance. Students get those skills with this program."

"So many people have so many stories that happen to them and a lot of people have no idea," said Warden High School junior Haley Yamane. "And so, this is a really good opportunity just to get ourselves out there and let people know."

"It's actually really, really emotional and it's tough at times, but we managed to pull through and it's a lot of fun," said Warden High School junior Victoria Martinez.

While the program is primarily meant for the students, Fraire saw an opportunity for central Washington communities to benefit, too.

"Not only is it a developmental program for these students, but we produce some very high quality organic theater that's missing in this part of the state," he said. "What I tell the students is that we are not doingt a high school productionhj of 'Grease' and 'Mary Poppins.' We are doing professional theater."

"I've never really experienced anything like this before," said Warden High School junior Andy Rodriguez. "Just going to a lot of places to perform our stories is just so amazing and I'm very glad I took this opportunity."

By Steven Wyble, Herald Staff Writer