According to the library’s online description, “Los Nietos presents a bilingual series of short Latin American stories, along with live music, ancient history, shadow puppets and traditional costumes. For ages 3-adult.” That brief description does not do justice to the animated songs, tales, poignancy, and audience participation that took place in the meeting room of the High Point Branch of the Seattle Public Library today.
Starring FamilyWorks’ very own Mayra Castanos, cast as a child who is sad because she misses her deceased grandfather, and is looking for his soul, a cast of three acted, danced, sang, and fielded questions and interruptions from the most demanding of audiences: children. A small row of seats lined the back of the room, and the rest of the space was filled with carpet squares for little ones of all ages. As Mayra worked her way through tales with morals like our hearts can see things that our eyes cannot, she was greeted by two wizards and three people wearing capes, each of whom had a story to tell. Layers upon layers of stories included marionettes (the horse was a crowd favorite), shadow puppets (including a multicolored, jointed lizard), and music. There were songs, there was dance, and there were questions asked. The children excitedly help Mayra find each of the people wearing capes, informed her that they spoke English, and told stories of their own great-grandparents.
Unlike so many children’s plays, even those of us who were there to support friends rather than bring our own small children learned from the play. Immersed in a society in which talk of death and dying are almost taboo, we were reminded of the importance of remembering the dead while celebrating life, of remembering that we know the sun is there even on days when we can’t see it, and of keeping the memories of those we love alive. While the children mostly wanted to share their own experiences during the question and answer session following the play, more than a few adults had questions about Day of the Dead, about altars, and about remembrance.
Admittedly, this particular show occurred on one of the hottest days of Seattle’s latest heat waves, in the overly-air-conditioned Seattle Public Library, but even if it’s a gorgeous and not oppressively-warm day, this play is a great way to spend an hour of your afternoon, and to provoke thought and discussion about death, dying, and life. There are plenty more dates at various branches of the library in which to see Capa de Cuentos. Congratulations to Mayra and Los Nietos for bringing such an important topic to life, and for inspiring the children, who all rushed to help move a table on the set and find boxes for the altar!
We highly recommend checking out the Seattle Public Library and its Summer Reading Program (for both kids and adults). For all the photos and even a VIDEO from the event, please check out our Facebook Page!