Results & Impact:
La Coordinadora recognized that its communication regarding GMOs and chemical pesticides and fertilizers was not making an impact, which is what catalyzed this project.
Going into this project I wasn't sure exactly what form the skit would take. In order to emphasize the links between sustainable agriculture and the community's ancestral traditions, the story was set in Mesoamerica before the arrival of the conquistadors. The play was told by a narrator as if it were a fairytale. The main characters were two Salvadoran ancestors who, once upon a time lived in balance with the earth and showed great respect and reverance for nature. In the fairytale, the ancestors fall asleep and have a prophetic dream in which they travel to the future and meet Senor TomatePez, a tomato made cold-resistant with a fish gene, and Don Tamaron, an evil pesticide that doesn't care if it kills beneficial insects of humans. In the dream the conquistadores and capitalists steal their land, leaving their descendants dependent on multinational corporations for seeds and survival. The ancestors are convinced they must warn their descendants. In the skit they turn directly to the audience and start asking questions.
During the post-skit dialogues it was evident from the questions and discussions that community members were engaging with the concepts. The participants were more active in La Coordinadora's program and more open to trying new methods.
The staff agronomists, none of which had ever acted before, realized that they were very capable of creating and performing new skits. They also now recognize that theater in a powerful educational tool.
The play has been incorporated as part of the curriculum at The Agricultural School. It has also drawn in some new youth participants who perform the play in the community.
A couple of challenges in this project were the following:
- The agronomist are very busy people, so it was difficult to have consistent rehearsals. Meetings were often cancelled or rescheduled.
- The agronomists have limited time for developing theater skills and memorizing lines.
In order to deal with this first challenge, we just had to go with the flow. It helped that the agronomists work very closely as a team and are dedicated to their work.
To deal with second challenge, we fit the skit to address this limitation by having a narrator that could read directly from the script, while the other acted out what the narrator was reading or improvised.