Photos by Lucas Bennett and Zoë Dearborn
On Wednesday, March 16th, the premier of El Principito en Baja was performed at the historic Teatro de Márquez de León Theater in Todos Santos. The play was an adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic book, The Little Prince, re-written for the stage by David Liles and Sylvia Perel, Founder and Director of the Festival de Cine Todos Santos, with some additions and re-imaginings to include the local context of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, which is under environmental threat by goldmining industry. There were two performances--the morning matinee which was viewed by over 200 schoolchildren, (including the Elias Calles school where my son attends) and the evening, which kicked off the 13th annual Festival de Cine Todos Santos - La Paz, raised money for the Jóvenes en Video program, a program of the ten year running Leonardo Perel Film School, (founded by Sylvia Perel's late husband) and the only film school in Baja California Sur. The second performance was attended by a highly enthusiastic audience, which included Mexican actor, director and producer, Diego Luna.
Work on the play started in the summer of 2015, as part of a series of free summer workshops that involved more than 60 local kids learning film-making, animation and acting. 5 of those kids Esli, 18, (EL PILOTO), Lucas, 8 (EL PRINCIPITO) , Emilia, 10 (EL MANANTIAL y LA CASCABEL), Maria José, 13 (LA FLOR y EL DRAGON) and Hannah, 12 (EL EMPRESARIO y EL COYOTE) were cast for the main characters and rehearsed for eight months. The cast was later joined by three wonderful girls: Lía, (FLOR) Fernanda, (FLOR) y Susje (FLOR). Starting with the YOUTH EN VIDEO workshops, the kids created masks, characters, memorized lines, stage directions, learned songs and even some dancing. The youth from JOVENES EN VIDEO (Dora, Frida, Juan, Raquel taught by Prof. Mike Henaine) captured this creative process in their documentary, Detrás de las Escenas del Principito en Baja (Behind The Scenes of the Little Prince en Baja), which will be screened at 3 PM on Monday, March 21st at Teatro Manuel Márquez de León. Admission is Free. The JÓVENES EN VIDEO also created the charming animated videos and stunning footage capturing the natural beauty of Baja that were projected on the LED screen behind the actors to add scenery and meaning to this beautiful multimedia theatrical production, whose theme was protecting the natural beauty of Baja.
Last July, Sylvia Perel asked me to help her with the production, which was originally supposed to be performed in October. At that time, I was helping as creative consultant, and attending some of the rehearsals, not really sure the best way to help. I tried to pull in more actors, and brough in some visual ideas, but my real role did not start until November, when Sylvia told me that La Flor was supposed to sing a song. I told her I was a songwriter, and that I would write one. That night I poured over the script in Spanish, and the original book and wrote my first song en Español. I had some help with the Spanish from Sylvia Perel and Silvia Padilla, (my Spanish teacher and English student, and my neighbor and friend.) And Por Ti (La Canción de la Flor) was born! There was this extra part at the end, that I couldn't figure out how to connect to the rest of the song. It just didn't fit. After a few weeks of trying to make it work, I suddenly realized the ending to that song was really its own song, and that it could be the finale of the play! A few weeks later, Sylvia told me they needed additional music and sound to enhance and tie in the performances. I immediately agreed, and that was how I became the Musical Director of the play. I am immensely proud and happy to have had the opportunity to collaborate with and meet so many creative local talents and to have been involved in such a heartfelt, and beautiful production with such an important message. Wednesday's performance, and all the hours of work that led up to it, was truly a creative highlight of my life. I hope that I will collaborate with the JÓVENES EN VIDEO in the future--I already have several ideas for projects in mind. This production was a great opportunity for me to practice teaching in Spanish, and my goal is to collaborate more with children in BCS gives me more motivation to improve my Spanish.
Here is the recording of Por Ti that I made, which was featured in the play. I hope Maria José, the girl who played the flower and who sang the song, will join me on April 14th to sing it with me at my next gig in at La Esquina. I plan to do another recording of the song, with all the verses and both of our voices.
Here is the complete list of cast and crew:
Dirección/Producción Sylvia Perel
Guión /Script Sylvia Perel & David Liles
Producción Ejecutiva. Patricia Fernández Millán
Dirección de Actores/ Acting Teacher Prof. Guillermina Sainz
Producción Técnica/ Tech Production Rogelio Muñoz Camacho
Escenografía/Set Designing Wesley Horn
Vestuario/Costumes Clara Gaucín
Música/Music Zoë Dearborn
Iluminación/Lighting design Franciso Zuñiga
Objetos /Props Salvador Cadena (Chava)
Actores/Actors Esli Mejía, Lucas Cano Sanchez , Emilia Cano Sanchez, Maria José Favela, Rosita Orozco, Lía Romero, Fernanda Murillo. Susje Torres.
Producción Visual : Jóvenes en Video, Prof. Mike Henaine, Dora Juliana Martinez, Frida Cota, Juan Manuel Agúndez, Raquel León Gonzalez
Logística/Logistic Angie Ontiveros
Efectos digitales, mapping e instalación: MUV Marco Gaviño, Rolando González e Iván Rodríguez.
For more information, check the Festival de Cine Website.