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About the Play Pre- & Post-Show Activities Lesson Resources TEKS Standards for Activities

This resource guide was compiled, devised and edited by

Emily Aguilar Thomas and

Kevin H. Tran

About the Play The Story of Esperanza Rising takes live form onstage The famous novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan has become a live action play through collaboration between Seattle Children’s Theatre and Children’s Theatre Company -Minneapolis. The play is The University of Texas at Austin’s Theatre for Young Audiences 2014 selection for inclusion in the main-stage season! Embark on a journey with your students as they follow the transition of Esperanza’s fall from an farmer in the United States. This guide is meant to be used as a resource for educators interested in deepening students learning experience with the book, play, and time period. It includes activities for before or after seeing the play and assumes classes have read the book.

About the Author Award-winning Mexican American author Pam Muñoz Ryan writes books for adults, picture books for children, and novels for older students. Her works include Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, Becoming Naomi Leon, The Dreamer, Esperanza Rising, Paint the Wind, and Riding Freedom, which have garnered, among countless accolades, the Pura Belpré medal, the Jane Addams Award, and the Schneider Family Award. She was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley and her Mexican grandmother (the inspiration for Esperanza) lived around the corner. A full-time writer, she lives with her husband in San Diego County.

About the Playwright Lynne Alvarez went to New York in 1977 as a poet and by 1979 she had won a CAPS grant for poetry and proceeded to serve as Vice President of the board of directors for Poets & Writers for ten years. She had great success as a poet and then in 1978 she turned abruptly to playwriting after attending a gathering of Hispanic writers at Miriam Colon’s Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. At 31 she had never considered writing a play but she was now hooked. She wrote two plays under the auspices of this workshop which premiered at the St. Clements Theatre in 1983 and won her an NEA fellowship and entry into New Dramatists. Alvarez wrote several plays as a New Dramatist cluding Hidden Parts which won a Kesselring Award in 1983 The Wonderful Tower of Humbert LaVoignet which won two awards. Alvarez has been commissioned as a translator of plays and poetry as well. She has translated three plays by the great contemporary Mexican playwright Felipe Santander. Lynne Alvarez passed away in 2009 after a long struggle with a brain tumor.

Dramatic Structure Protagonist: The protagonis of this story is Esperanza. As a young heroine, she must overcome her father’s death, assimilate into a new home and culture, live in absence of her onist. Esperanza’s antagonist is Tio Luis. Esperanza a bandon everything they know to escape his nemesing grasp. California. After Esperanza’s father is murdered and house burned down by the hands of his own brother, Tio Luis, Esperanza must escape to the poor California labor camps in the skills that she would have never had to learn as a wealthy vineyard owner’s daughter, in order to raise money to bring her mother to California from Mexico.

at the end of the play as a surpise to everyone. Denoument: mona plant the rose stems Miguel brought from their home in

LIFE IN A LABOR CAMP A day in the life of a San Joaquin Valley labor camper


How can they prevent the dust from coming into their homes? How can they prevent breathing some of the dust when outside?

Lesson Resources. Who was affected? How and why? What ways could the farmers plan better for these dust storms to prevent cases of Valley Fever?

What causes these dust storms? What were some of the problems Esperanza and family faced when dust storms came?

Three children prepare to leave for school wearing goggles and homemade dust masks to protect them from the dust. Lakin, Kansas, 1935. Credit: Green Family Collection.

The Associated Press took this photograph in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on March 25, 1935. These children are attending school during a dust storm. This photo is from the Minneapolis Public Library Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division.

“Do not ever be afraid to start over�

LIVING ESPERANZA Stepping into the shoes of our lead heroine Rol on the Wall


In the beginning of the play, we notice a servant girl following Esperanza and Marielena as they play with Esperanza’s new doll. Esperanza calls the servant girl “india prieta,” a racial slur which literally translates to “brown indian girl.” On a board or poster paper, draw a large outline of a person. Write “servant girl” above the outline. Ask students what they think the servant girl wants and feels in the play. These responses go on the inside of the outline. INSIDE • hopes • desires • feelings Ask students about how Esperanza treats the servant girl. What are some things she says or does that might affect the servant girl? How does she view the servant girl?

Write those responses on the outside of the outline. OUTSIDE • hurtful words • judgements • expectations

Discuss the relationship between the inside and outside responses in pairs, groups, or as a class. Use this activity for other characters such as Marta or Ramona.

Esperanza’s Letter


In character as Esperanza, have students write a letter to Abuelita in Mexico. Invite students to highlight how Esperanza’s life has changed throughout the course of the details (Dust Bowl, Great Depression, immigration, repatriation, boycotts, Valley Fever, etc.) and how these events have affected her life. Students may seek inspiration from the book, but shouldn’t feel limited to including only those historical references the letter bilingually or to include at least a few known words in Spanish.

Think, Pair, Share!


Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish, so the title of the story literally translates to “hope rising.” What are ways that hope rises for Esperanza? How does hope show itself in unique ways, such as through images, action, or objects? Invite students to think about these questions on their own for a few moments, then pair with a partner to make a clear list of ideas. After having an extensive discussion, invite each pair to share their ideas out with the class, supporting

“Our Land is alive, Esperanza... This whole valley breathes and lives...�

Lesson Resources Don’t jump into the lesson empty-handed! Dust Storm Safety Planning

History Collage and Esperanza’s Letter

TEKS Standards 1. Dust Storm Safety Planning

2. History Collage

4. Esperanza’s Letter

5. Think, Pair, Share!

3. Roll on the Wall

WORDS TO KNOW Esperanza- hope Ă´b  Âťb  ampesino- peasant

ente- people    b 

“We are like the phoenix,� said Abuelita. “Rising again, with a new life ahead of us.� Meet the TEXAS Esperanaza Rising Team! Esperanza )PSUFOTJB %PO4JYUP.BJMNBO 3BNPOB .BSJFMFOB .JHVFM -VJT *TBCFM .PEFTUB "MGPOTP .BSUB .BSJBDIJ &OTFNCMF

Director Assistant Director Musical Director Stage .anager Assistant Stage Manager Assistant Stage Manager Scenic Designer Costume Designer Media Designer Lighting Designer IM Engineer Dramaturg Dramaturg Community Engagement Coordinator Education Coordinator Assistant Education Coordinator


Natalie Novacek Madilynn Garcia Spencer Blank Victoria Solorio Claire Stephen SaraRobillard Yongmin Lee Andie Day Patrick Lord Sam Zuckerman Matthew Smith Selina Rosales Joshua Streeter Meredyth Pederson Emily Aguilar Thomas Kevin H. Tran



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Esperanza Rising Resource Guide  

Produced by The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance in conjunction with the production of "Esperanza Rising," Octo...

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