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You're On!: Seven Plays in English and Spanish

You're On!: Seven Plays in English and Spanish

by Lori Marie Carlson

Plays by distinguished authors Oscar Hijuelos, Gary Soto, Federico Garcma Lorca, Pura Belpri, Elena Castedo, Alfonsina Storni, and Denise Ruizare featured in this impressive collection. The plays appear in both English and Spanish, and can be used by those who are learning either language. The selections are diverse: Some plays are short and simple, some more


Plays by distinguished authors Oscar Hijuelos, Gary Soto, Federico Garcma Lorca, Pura Belpri, Elena Castedo, Alfonsina Storni, and Denise Ruizare featured in this impressive collection. The plays appear in both English and Spanish, and can be used by those who are learning either language. The selections are diverse: Some plays are short and simple, some more complex; some are humorous, some poignant. There's a play for everyone in this varied collection.

Editorial Reviews

MultiCultural Review
...Carlson's collection of seven plays is a fine addition of classic and modern plays that are ready for the school or classroom stage. Teachers will find that the plays represent a variety of Hispanic cultures and dialects. The playwrights represent the finest in their category from Spanish and Latin American greats like Federico Garcia Lorca and Alfonsina Storni to contemporary American writers like Gary Soto, Pura Belpre, and Oscar Hijuelos.

The plays are perfect for young actors, and teachers will find they can be staged with a minimum of sets and costumes...The bilingual format is ideal for different types of classrooms ranging from regular English classrooms to bilingual and even middle schools with Spanish language offerings. I highly recomend this book for the school library or classroom, and let the acting begin!

Children's Literature - Susan Hepler
Seven plays published here for the first time in English also appear in Spanish (two were previously published in Spanish) and may be read or performed by any age group, although the audience seems primarily middle schoolers or those in at least a second-year Spanish class. Plays vary from contemporary situations to poetic musings and differ in length from three pages to about a dozen pages, making these suitable for quick readings. Will middle schoolers or high school students respond favorably to these plays? Perhaps. A Gary Soto story concerns a boy who gives up his new shoes to an immigrant uncle who's about to look for work (but the shoes pinched anyhow) while Denise Ruiz captures the taunts and arguments of girls competing in jump-roping but really establishing pecking orders. Garcia Lorca's "The Girl Who Waters Basil" and the "Very Inquisitive Prince" and a Christmas play by Oscar Hijuelos are nearly nonsense and will cause readers to shrug. A mime play by Alfonsina Storni makes one wonder at the language component intentions. While the contributors are well known for other writings, all in all, these efforts seem forced, fanciful, flat and written to fit the need of the collection.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
8 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt


Remember The First Time I Was In A Play. It was summer, and I was bored, so I organized a theater. The stage was the grassy backyard of my house. The curtain? A huge red plaid blanket folded on a clothesline joining two hickory-nut trees. I also directed my summer theater and designed the scenery. I spoke and sang, but I left the dancing to my sister, a three-year-old whirling dervish and natural ham. Neighborhood children participated by doing whatever they liked.

During elementary school, I was in several plays. I loved to be onstage. But then, in junior high school, I became quite shy. It wasn't until my freshman year of high school that I began to enjoy acting again. The musical Oklahoma was so much fun, and I was enchanted by the jaunty, rhythmic tunes. Once, my favorite English teacher encouraged me to try out for the role of Portia in The Merchant of Venice. I would have, had I not been so unsure about my thespian abilities. I had an enviable memory, and I was very theatrical, at least in front of my circle of pals, but performing Shakespeare in front of a thousand people? Forget it.

Oddly enough, plays do allow for hiding. The audience sees the physical forms of actors onstage but knows nothing of their personal thoughts or feelings. Actors can hide quite successfully behind the characters they are playing. Some of the shiest and gentlest people I have known have been the best actors.

Essential to performing, it seems to me, is letting your imagination go, allowing for mood and character transformations. Calderón de la Barca, a seventeenth-century Spaniard and one of the greatest playwrights in the history of world theater, said, "La. vida es sueño," which means "Life is a dream." I do believe it's true.

In the Spanish-speaking world, theater has always had many functions in the community. Initially, in Spain, centuries ago, theater had an instructional purpose. It wasn't simply entertainment. Often, ideas about right and wrong, or morality plays, were staged for the people, so that religious teachings could be enforced. Certain beliefs were more understandable to the average citizen if he could see them acted out. Just think: Hearing about an angel might be interesting, but actually seeing one garbed in white and gold, with wings, is really spectacular.

In Spain, the great age of theater, known as the Golden Age, occurred in the late 1500s and 1600s. It wasn't until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that theater had a second wind in the Iberian Peninsula. By that time, theater had become a vehicle for examination and criticism. Playwrights often explored what made society unbearable or cruel. Sometimes they attacked institutions or certain individuals in a bold and searing way. One of Spain's greatest playwrights, Federico García Lorca, often showed his countrymen how difficult, even wretched, life was for Spanish women, for example.

In twentieth-century Latin America, theater often involved protest. Small troupes would shout their disapproval of regimes or politics in -- believe it or not -- whispers. What do I mean by this -- shout in whispers? Strong messages, critical comments could be delivered in the softest tone of voice onstage, or in comedy, in outlandish scenes of hilarity and absurdity. This way, the authorities might not be aware that they were being exposed and examined by the nation.

Of course, not a theater eater is a out protest or criticism. Sometimes a play is just plain fun. In the United States, there is no place for plays and musicals that compares with New York City's Broadway. And Broadway is just that: a wide avenue showing all kinds of drama, from tragedies and comedies to one-man shows and lavish musicals. While Latin theater is not a very strongly felt component on the national stage yet, it's certain that, with time, this will change. Latino actors are becoming more and more popular in television, cinema, and theater.

In order to present a broad range of bilingual plays in this anthology, I decided to include work from Spain, Latin America, and the United States. These are plays that can just as easily be read in the classroom as staged. They are fairly short -- some just a few pages long. There is some thing here for a variety of moods and moments. It is possible to act like a kid in the barrio who can't speak English well because she is a recent immigrant, as depicted in the work by Denise Ruiz. How about pretending to be a coffee plant? Yes, really. Puerto Rican Pura Belpré's work requires actors who wouldn't mind morphing into something really different for a change. In Oscar Hijuelos's pageant, Christmas Fantasy, imagine all the tomfoolery to be had by being an itsy-bitsy Christmas elf named Peachpit. The extraordinary Spanish poet Federico García Lorca seems to say in his folkloric piece, Hey, look, drama is a poem, too. just as the Argentine Alfonsina Storni whispers, Close your eyes and listen to the music, in both the Spanish and the English in her haunting mime. In These Shoes of Mine, Gary Soto's realistic dialogue goes straight to the heart -- any heart willing to try and do the right thing, no matter how hard. Of course, some drama is about a lot of movement. If aerobics is your thing, I dare you to try acting in Elena Castedo's play of musical chairs. You're on!

You're On!. Copyright © by Lori Carlson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Lori Marie Carlson was born in Jamestown, New York. She holds an M.A. in Hispanic Literature from Indiana University and has taught at several universities. Carlson is also the author of seven books for young adults, including the acclaimed Cool Salsa. The Sunday Tertulia is her first novel. She lives in New York City.

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