“There’s an energy to places, a resonance. The walls, as they say, have ears.”
-“The Mission Play” 2013, adapted by Jonathan Sailsbury and Nicole Avenia
Originally written in 1911 by John Steven-McGroarty and now adapted for the 21st century, “The Mission Play” tells the tale of the rise of the California mission system charting the relationships between the Franciscan friars, Spanish army and Native American tribes. However, the play is not about clashing communications but connecting community and celebrating culture.
From April 5-April 7 audiences can watch as history unfolds in the re-imagined version of the play at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. The play was originally performed in 1912-1932 to be seen by over 2.5 million people at the playhouse.
I am honored to play, Sue, one of the four modern teens that break out in a hip-hop dance at the beginning of the play to later be swept back in time to go on a journey to learn about respect, resilience and resonance.
The four teens are additions to the newly adapted version that are present throughout the whole show to help connect the 21st century to the classic tale.
The terms respect, resilience and resonance are applicable both to this play and any actor’s career.
Respect: It is helpful to respect yourself as an actor and the other professionals you get to work with. Respect can translate into learning the “lines” as written, respecting what everyone brings to the table, props, wardrobe or respecting the time you commit to the rehearsal process.
“Mission Play”: The play touches on valuing time whether it be the past (ancestors and own memories), present (change) or future possibilities. Just like respect should be given to every professional working on a show, the teens learn that respect should be given to anyone who may have opposing viewpoints or culture anchors.
Resilience: I recognize that artists face a lot of rejection, possible disappointment or negativity surrounding their craft and lifestyle. It might be helpful to do a litmus test to understand how you personally react to situations and develop a glass half full type attitude. I think it is important to have a full life where acting is not the only you thing you do and to know who truly loves you. What audience do you live to please? I live for an audience of one.
“Mission Play”: Numerous characters remain faithful to their personal mission and vision despite numerous setbacks. The theater itself was built in 1927 to house the production and has remained standing through earthquakes and time. In addition, the show spans about sixty years showing how different groups of people survived.
Resonance: Choose projects that inspire you and that you connect with. Whenever I read scripts I get so excited when I read someone’s life off the page that resonates with me. There is a physical and emotional connection that flips the switch.
“Mission Play”: The theater space is breathtaking and walking into a place with so much history sends ripples of electrifying energy through my system. Certain places evoke different emotions and trigger the five senses into action. I am blessed to go to work and play with my fellow ensemble members here.
Come experience the theater’s rich history and learn along with my character Sue how respect, resilience and resonance can impact history with love and forgiveness. Check-out the radiant theater and see what resonates with you. Click here to buy tickets.
I look forward to entering tech week for the show and celebrating Easter where history is HIS story! Happy Easter!
“It’s not about being right or wrong-it’s about finding common ground—seeking to see the other person’s point of view, finding peace and seeing God in the very darkest corners and the most shimmering fields.”-Ubaldo, Act Three “Mission Play”
The play features members from the Gaberlino Tongva tribe, Spanish, Chinese and hip-hop dancers and singers that reflect the history of the city of San Gabriel. Teh’Hoveet! (means “great” in the Gaberlino Tongva language)