Two decades of theatre and health education

Two decades of theatre and health education

A slightly different version of this story was originally published in our newsletter, Miracle Insider. Click here to subscribe.

When Milagro Founder and Executive Director José González decided to quit smoking about a decade ago, he did it on April Fools’ Day so he would always remember what a fool he was to begin. Today we take a look at the many ways Milagro has helped increase awareness and improve the wellness in our communities.

Although touring educational shows have been part of our offerings since the early days of the company, since the mid-90’s Milagro has ventured into the health field covering important issues like HIV, breast cancer and smoking. In 1995, Milagro produced En Este Valle de Lágrimas, a Spanish language play that was performed (sometimes literally) in the middle of migrant camps. The poignant story of a young family affected by HIV proved an effective vehicle for the message about testing and protection, and the project was reprised for three years.

In the next few years, Lágrimas was followed up by Fortuna de la Vida and Cenizas, shows addressing breast cancer and smoking, respectively. “People who have attended [Milagro] performances in Washington County have been enthralled with the stories presented to them. Our experiences with [Milagro] have re-affirmed our belief in the effectiveness of their education model,” said health professional Linda Nilsen-Solares to El Hispanic News in 2000. The tour of Cenizas reached audiences in northern California and Washington State.

Milagro continues working in this important area as part of OYE (Opciones Y Educación), a coalition founded in 2008 to promote healthy sexuality in Latino communities in Oregon using theater and popular education. Subjects tackled by the project include open communication, LGBT issues, body image, and “the ins and outs” of sexual health. Milagro’s partners in this alliance include diverse organizations like Cascade AIDS Project, Edúcate Ya, Latino Network, Planned Parenthood, and Causa. Their joint efforts were just recognized by the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners at the Public Health Heroes Celebration with the 2015 Social and Equity Justice Award.

OYE and its workshops empowering youth to stay safe and healthy will also be an integral part of our upcoming 32nd Season, complementing Broken Promises, a new touring bilingual play reflecting on the disturbing phenomenon of sex trafficking. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and read our blog to stay informed about all of the exciting projects, events and productions at Milagro this coming season!