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It’s the summer of 1994 in Anaheim, and 19-year-old Gloria Delgado is soaking up the sun in her rollerskates along with some friends as they roll around to the “Xanadu” soundtrack in the Disneyland Hotel parking lot. But when Gloria is faced with a life-changing decision — which one is the “right” choice?

“One of the biggest takeaways for me is this as a play for young adults and sparking conversations with young women about their reproductive rights and sex education. And you know, what is the ‘right’ choice?” said Si Mon’ Emmett, director of the upcoming play “Have To Believe We Are Magic.”

‘Have To Believe We Are Magic’

Playwright: Sara Guerrero. Directed: Si Mon’ Emmett. Dramturg: Melanie Claire Queponds. Stage manager: Sunshine Garrison. Actors: Mariana Baidon Carillo, Susanne Pinedo, Marianne Ceballos, Andrew Valdez, Madison Palomo, Jennifer Rosario, Kara Bellavia and Marianella “Mari” Garza.

When: Saturday, May 15, 1 p.m. PST
Tickets: $50 for a festival pass, or make a donation to receive the link for the show based on the date selected.  Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

She added, “We learn in this story what it means to define what the right choice is for this character.”

Emmett is working with Sara Guerrero, founding artistic director of Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, to bring Guerrero’s playwright “Have To Believe We Are Magic” to the stage — or at least the screens of viewers — for the upcoming Teatro Vivo 2021 Austin Latinx New Play Festival in collaboration with ScriptWorks.

Guerrero’s play is a Latinx coming-of-age story where she pulls inspiration from some of her own adolescence growing up in Santa Ana and Anaheim, where her childhood home fell under the shadow of Orange County’s Magic Kingdom.

“I could see the Matterhorn on the summer nights when they had the fireworks,” Guerrero said. “We could watch when Tinkerbell would descend from the Matterhorn. Disneyland was right next door to us. So, I literally lived in the shadows of the Magic Kingdom growing up.” 

While Guerrero’s play has elements of magic and humor, it also touches on more serious topics of abortion after she learned more about The Turnaway Study. Spearheaded by the University of California San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, the 10-year study took a look at the mental, physical and socioeconomic health of women who received an abortion versus those who were denied one. 

Women who received a wanted abortion were more likely to have a positive outlook on their future as well as achieve their aspirations within one year. Compared to women who were denied an abortion and had almost four times greater odds of having a household income below the poverty level, according to the study. 

“That’s part of the conflict for Gloria. As a woman, we are forced to do for others — always do for others. But what happens when you need to do for yourself? When you find yourself 19 and pregnant?” Guerrero said. 

While the entire play doesn’t focus on the theme of abortion, it made Guerrero focus on the characters, different circumstances and themes adolescents face, such as family, friends, adulthood, sexuality and the wild times in between. 

The “Have to Believe We Are Magic” cast and crew rehearses on Zoom. Credit: Photo courtesy of Sara Guerrero

“Have To Believe We Are Magic” will be presented along with another play later in the evening called “Los Pochos” by Herbert Siguenza. 

Guerrero’s play, along with the three others, was picked out of a pool of around 50 to 60 applicants for this year’s festival. 

The Austin Latinx New Play Festival is from May 13 through 15 showcasing the work of four playwrights. This year, due to the virtual format, the festival was able to accept applications for playwrights beyond Texas. 

The festival gives playwrights the opportunity to receive feedback and produce their original work as the festival works to highlight the works of Latino voices. While the festival works to help playwrights refine their work, the festival also teams each playwright with his/her own director, dramaturg and actors to bring the stories to life on the main stage. 

“I’ve known (Sara’s) work but it’s been truly wonderful to work with her, and everyone who’s involved is really enjoying telling the story. We’re grateful to work with her,” said festival producer Roxanne Schroeder-Arce.

“I’ve been directing on Zoom for well over a year, but to be in the seat of a writer, a playwright, has been incredible,” Guerrero said. “I mean, it has challenged me, it has questioned my choices. But it has allowed me to really immerse myself in a way that I can really see myself, and I’m excited to continue this journey.”

Kristina Garcia is a writing fellow for Voice of OC Arts & Culture. She can be reached at kristinamgarcia6@gmail.com.

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