Actress Helena De Crespo is in Ashland developing a comprehensive multicultural theater project. The working title is “Intercambio”, created to enhance artistic communication within the various cultures within the Rogue Valley Community. Helena founded Cultural Centers both in Costa Rica and Colombia. Over tea at Pangea, she defined the initiatives of “Intercambio”.
EH: What is unique about this project?
HDC: What is unique is that it came from the community. People were saying, in various areas, that there is a huge reservoir of talent and potential audience in the Hispanic community that hasn’t opened-up as it could.
The whole initiative was to cover the performing arts in whatever way, shape, or form that it should manifest. As I had done so much work in Latin America, I seem to be an appropriate person to spearhead it. We’ve created a wonderful steering committee with highly dedicated, clever, and informed people. What has evolved is: there will be four initiatives.
We’ve located a talent from the Hispanic community to record a CD that will hopefully be of such quality that it will spread the word that we are a resource for performers to display their talents. We interviewed and tested a well-known musician in the community, Antonio Reyes and his grandson, Jesus. They have prepared a repertoire of between ten and fifteen songs, some original. That is coming along nicely. The studio has been located, and the packaging and processing are in the works.
Our next project is a Talent Showcase, an “Encuentro de Talentos”. There will be a registration period. Each talent will be interviewed and tested for quality. The talent showcase is open to all ethnic groups and all age groups in the Rogue Valley. A final evening’s performance will be selected before a team of very estimable judges. This is going to take place at Kids’ Unlimited in Medford. It will be used as a vehicle to discover possible cast members for “Fiesta de Ashlandia”, by Bill Kucha, a delightful dinner theater production to be performed at Ashland’s “El Tapitio”. The project will build understanding, respect, and appreciation.
Our other initiative is very exciting. It has support from Rogue Community College; it is taking the dramatic arts into the English as a Second Language Program. It will be using drama to strengthen understanding within and between the cultures. It’s has an interactive component because interaction is communication between people between races. Without interaction there is no understanding, and that is the objective, to build understanding.
EH: It seems that the uniqueness of this project is that it is a blend, cultures working together.
HDC: Yes, within the structure of actually putting on a performance, it is the best way for people to get to know each other, when they’re working together to bring about a project. Doing a performance is like preparing to climb a mountain, and you’re all going to do it together, so you support each other. And then when you’re climbing the mountain, you rely on each other because if one fails, you all fail. If one succeeds, you all succeed. And that’s been proven down the ages. That’s no unique discovery of mine, although I have seen it manifest in bringing social classes together, in bringing countries together. It just has that magic.
This is a display of cultures being made aware of each other, and having to be sensitive, and loving each other, and coming out of it better than they were before. I think everybody is going to be surprised and enriched.
If someone is interested in participating, please e-mail, Helena@helenadecrespo.com.
For information about the Talent Showcase, contact: 541-552-0630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.