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Play explains Day of the Dead PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Thursday, 17 October 2013 09:22
The little girl in La Conexion's play can be forgiven for confusing The Day of the Dead with Halloween.
The celebration, El Dia de los Muertos, comes in that confluence of three Christian memorial days - All Hallows Eve  - our Halloween, All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day, Nov. 2.
All mark a time when it is believed the distance between the live and the dead is most tenuous.
The Mexican celebration The Day of the Dead sits astride All Saints and All Souls Day.
The festivities involve gatherings in cemeteries with stories and songs,  and the erection of altar covered with marigolds, food  and gifts for the dead, in homes to remember those who have died.
La Conexion will present a dramatic reading exploring the custom and its meaning on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the Simpson Building at the corner of Conneaut and Wintergarden in Bowling Green.
The presentation will include an ofrenda, the altar upon which cast members and those attending can place items remembering their loved ones.
The tradition is strong in Mexico and in those Mexican-American communities along the borders. Thomas Javier Castillo, a faculty member in the university's Department of Theatre and Film who is a member of the cast, said growing up in Arizona, the celebration was elaborate, including a parade.
"It became a very multicultural event," he said.
In contrast, the custom faded as Mexicans moved to Northwest Ohio looking for work.
Still, those like Gloria Pizana and Mary Hoffsis have tried to keep the language and culture alive. They met as students at Bowling Green State University and helped found the Latino Student Union.
Pizana helped organize a Day of the Dead celebration at the Toledo Museum of Art several years ago,. The celebration, she said, dates backs 3,000 years to the time of the Aztecs.
The same script was produced in Toledo. Pizana  saw that event and when La Conexion came together this year, she wanted to stage it here.
University professor Alberto Gonzalez of Bowling Green had a hand in the Toledo show and asked his wife, Jo Beth Gonzalez, the drama teacher at Bowling Green High School, to direct. She reprises that role in the Bowling Green.
The performance is a multi-generational affair including one of Gonzalez's students Marissa Ramos and Pizana's granddaughter, third grader Kyah Pizana.
For the youngster from McComb both the subject matter of the play and being on stage is a learning experience.
Ramos said she's experienced Day of the Dead ceremonies when she's visited family in California. For her the celebration is a way of helping people "deal with the passing of a relative."
The play is also an education for cast member Ray Plaza, the associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs on campus. He's Puerto Rican, and did not celebrate The Day of the Dead. But he sees events like this presentation as important in promoting Latino culture in the community.
It also serves as a way of forging links between the campus and the city. "It's part of getting engaged in the community and being part of it," Plaza said.
For Castillo the show provides him a way  of "getting in touch with the Latino community in Ohio and being involved in that community."
Sunday's presentation will also include music directed by Dallas Black, Spanish teacher at the high school. The event will end with a sing-along of the song "De Colores."

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