Former JP church will come alive with ‘Latin Spectacle’

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/05/24/former-jp-church-will-come-alive-with-latin-spectacle/

BOSTON – The former Blessed Sacrament Church on Centre Street in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood is coming back to life after closing its doors in 2004.

This weekend the sounds of ancient folk music will fill the air inside and out as members of the Hyde Square Task Force present the Double Edge Theatre’s “Latin American Spectacle,” an interactive performance that will begin on the plaza outside, move into the building and reemerge for a carnival-style parade.

Last week, a small group of musicians made up of students and adults from the Hyde Square youth arts agency, the Charlestown Working Theater, and Double Edge Theatre warmed up for the presentation. They stomped, clapped and sang together in a circle, playing guitars and percussion instruments to create an intriguing song and a promising prelude to the weekend’s free performance.

“It’s going to be full of music, dance, acting, stilters and puppetry,” Brenda Rodriguez-Andujar, Hyde Square’s director of arts and cultural programs, said about the upcoming show. The performances will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., among the first steps to reuse the building as a community space since it closed as a Catholic church.

Inside a group of musicians rehearse for their upcoming show. (New Boston Post photo by Beth Treffeisen)

Inside a group of musicians rehearse for their upcoming show. (New Boston Post photo by Beth Treffeisen)

The production is based on the play “Once a Blue Moon – Cada Luna Azule,” in which a traveler returns home to his Latin American village after many years away. Similarly, “Latin American Spectacle” unfolds with a returned traveler whose memories of life in his home village and stories about the town’s inhabitants evoke reflections about how progress can displace people.

The performance itself moves, starting from the plaza then relocating into the former church and then ending in a parade to the nearby Mozart Park.

Audience members will find themselves involved in the show as the performers interact with them through dancing, song and with the parade. Putting on the show has been a boon particularly for the kids involved, organizers say.

“It’s really opened up our youth’s eyes with how a performance looks like and engaging with the community,” said Vanessa Aguirreche Snow, who coordinates the theater program and has been working on the play since February. “It’s about building a vibrant community.”

Behind the scenes during a rehearsal (New Boston Post photo by Beth Treffeisen)

Behind the scenes during a rehearsal (New Boston Post photo by Beth Treffeisen)

The surrounding community will come to the fore toward the end of the performance, as a way to bring home the idea of dislocation by looking at issues such as gentrification in Jamaica Plain and the shrinking supply of affordable housing in the area.

“The story will become current,” said Stacey Klein, the Double Edge artistic director whose production of “Once a Blue Moon” last summer helped inspire the “Latin America” show. “Really it’s a collaboration of culture. That’s the most important part.”

The kids who work with the Hyde Square group attended a “Once a Blue Moon” performance at the Double Edge farm in Ashfield, Massachusetts, and took part as audience members. Aguirreche Snow said when she saw the kids reactions she knew that they had to bring something similar back to Boston.

“It seems like a natural fit,” Aguirreche Snow said. “The youth are so engaged and it touches on a lot of themes that Latin Americans can relate to.”

The production also features colorful costumes and masks, as well as aerial objects magically flying from trees outside and on trapeze bars indoors, in the spectacular style of “nouveau cirque” popularized by the Cirque du Soleil.

Outside the Blessed Sacrament Church in Jamaica Plain (New Boston Post photo by Beth Treffeisen)

Outside the Blessed Sacrament Church in Jamaica Plain (New Boston Post photo by Beth Treffeisen)

By Saturday night, the dancers, musicians, and actors will put all the pieces together, Rodriguez-Andujar said. But the dynamics of the performance will change when there will be 200 to 300 audience members watching and joining the show. Still, audience/participants have been a presence during rehearsals in the old church as many community members have stopped by to take a sneak peek and conjured up their own memories of weddings, funerals and times once spent at mass in the building, she said.

“It’s left a hole for a very, very long time,” Rodriguez-Andujar said about the Boston Archdiocese’s decision to close the church. “But, the doors will open this Memorial Day weekend and they will be open to the public.”

NBPDiversity

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