Tomás and the Library Lady
Fuse Theatre developed a stage production of Jose Cruz Gonzalez’s play adaptation of Pat Mora’s children’s book Tomás and the Library Lady. This play is the boyhood story of Tomás Rivera and how he befriended a librarian in Iowa who encouraged him to read. Tomás, the child of migrant farm workers, became a writer, a professor, and a national education leader. Tomás Rivera wrote, “It is impossible to imagine Chicano literature without the migrant worker.” At the time of his death he was the Chancellor at University of California at Riverside. The campus library now bears his name.
We worked with local libraries to present the play in the libraries with free admission for at least seven hundred audience members of all ages. We believe that this play will motivate youngsters to read more and discover what the world’s literature can offer them. The presentation of Chicano literature with Latino/a actors and a playwright is important for all youth in our community.
The play is directed by Stacey Ardelean, Artistic Director, and cast with local actors. The concept of the show is the transformative power of knowledge. As Tomás learns to read, he discovers worlds at his fingertips and a longing in his heart for learning. It is our hope that seeing this play will motivate and encourage youngsters not only to read but also to appreciate the experiences of others and find commonalities through the drama.
The play was done with motion graphic designs or projections that will include both Spanish and English translations as well as representations of the magical worlds Tomás discovers. We used audience participation devices such as a “pre-show” prop emergency where the actors will ask for help in recreating some props that were “lost” in the move. This device of breaking the fourth wall and involving the audience will create ownership and connection to the characters. This creates in turn creates accessibility for the audience.
A 10-show tour was completed in February 2018. Due to popular demand, Fuse Theatre is seeking funding to produce a 2nd tour tentatively targeted for September 2019.