Theatre Program Teaches Students How to Manage the Stress of Crisis or Disaster

The Houston-based Alley Theatre Company’s production of Oskar and the Last Straw entertained PISD students on Friday, March 13, 2020.   El Paseo Arts Foundation sponsored the live theatre performances for 302 second, third and fourth grade students at Derry Elementary School and for 261 third, fourth and fifth grade students at Garriga Elementary School. This Oskar touring production educates K-5 students about the important life skills they need to bounce back from crisis and cope with disasters big and small – a fitting topic for young students dealing with the stress of the Corona virus crisis. The talented and very high energy professional performers in the touring company interacted with the students as they are coming into the performance venue and students, asked them questions about acting and theatre, some students remarking that they would like to be an actor someday, too.

Julie Boughter and Brenda Bailey coordinated the performances for El Paseo Arts, and Derry school counselor Cristol Wolcot and Garriga school secretary Mary Lou Salinas coordinated the programs for the school district.

Promoting and supporting arts education for local students in order to help develop the artists and patrons of the arts for the future is a major initiative for El Paseo Arts Foundation. The Foundation’s arts initiatives include sponsoring a professional theatre, music, dance or visual arts program for PISD each year, focusing on a different age group each year. In addition the Foundations partners with the PI Library to sponsor a summer art camp each year, provides scholarships for local students to attend summer art classes at Art Space, and provides scholarships to graduating seniors who plan to continue advanced study in the arts. The Foundation has also planned to initiate a summer theatre camp for local students this year.

The PISD student audiences enjoyed the show as evidenced by their laughter and rapt attention. Humor is one of the primary tools that children’s theatre employs and the impact of that humor was the major element of the play that the students commented on. Tristan Villarreal, 4th grade, said he “like how funny it was.” Layla Mata, 4th grade said, “I like it because if expressed how you feel when you’re stressed out in a funny way so kids can understand it.” And Dana Munoz, 4th grade explained that she liked “where the kinds helped Oskar figure out ways to get everything out of his backpack and help him.” It was a great day for live theater.

Love, Sex, and the IRS

Love, Sex, and the I.R.S. by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore is a side-splitting farce set in the mid-1970’s about the consequences of cheating on your income taxes – and lying to your roommate about it.

Jon and Leslie (played by Hayden Draker and Dalton Swink) are longtime friends who are sharing an apartment while they look for work as musicians. Jon has generously offered to file both his and Leslie’s taxes for the past several years. Jon has been able to create a tax savings by filing jointly with Leslie…as his wife. Together they face a cruel accounting when IRS agent Floyd Spinner (Dave Boughter) drops in to meet Jon’s “wife”, Leslie. In a desperate move, they decide the only way out is to disguise Leslie as a woman, and try to get the IRS agent drunk enough that he won’t know the difference.

Complicating the already sticky situation is the fact that Leslie id having an affair with Jon’s fiancée, Kate (Erika Houston). On top of that, Leslie’s girlfriend Connie (Connie Munoz) comes by to find out why Leslie has been avoiding her. Not to mention that Jon’s mother, Vivian (Mary Beth Bailey) shows up unannounced. The building superintendent Mr. Jansen (Rick Alf) is suspicious that there are women living in the apartment in violation of their rental agreement and continuously barges in to see if he can catch them. Add in a pulled-from-the-subway officiant Mr. Grunion (Roy Magana) intending to help, and the farce dance card is complete!

This local production is sure to take you back in time and have you laughing the night away! Production dates are February 27th, 28th & 29th, and March 1st at the South Padre Island Convention Center. Doors open at 6:30 P.M. for Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar. Curtain up at 7:30 P.M.

Tickets are $30 per person, $25 per person for El Paseo Arts Foundation members. Tickets are available for purchase at Paragraphs Book Store, S.O.S. Shipping, The Art Gallery in Lighthouse Square and online under tickets in the menu at www.elpaseoarts.org.