Puente Theatre: Community Innovation

Lina de Guevara

It’s from the edges of our life that some of our greatest opportunities for learning and growth come.  I can safely say theatrical experience is at the edge of my life.

So, when I met with the Lina de Guevara this week, for a conversation, I knew I was going to discover some new things.  I was right.

Lina is a director, actor, theatre teacher, and founder of Puente Theatre, here in Victoria.  Puente Theatre uses theatrical experience, in innovative ways, to build bridges between cultures.  Lina generously shared some of her own experiences and insights with me, around the immigrant experience, the role of theatre, and community building.   I totally enjoyed our conversation, and find her and her work inspiring.

The Immigrant Experience

Lina knows first-hand, about the immigrant experience.  Coming to Canada, from Chile, in 1976, she struggled to re-establish herself in her adopted country.  Although a seasoned theatre professional when she arrived, she still experienced a loss of profession in Canada.

Lack of respect, diminishment, unemployability, are common to the immigrant experience.  The opportunity to take the immigrant experience to the stage, for individual and community benefit, led to Puente’s startup in 1988.

The Puente approach

Out of my conversation with Lina, I really appreciate Puente (and Lina, of course) because they:

  • recognize the stage a place of power; to give voice, empowering
  • acknowledge the real experts; the people living the problem
  • meet the participants where they are; facilitate success
  • respect the participant as lead; the solution will emerge
  • learn experientially; theatre is a way to learn the local rules through play
  • work with the community; other professionals, volunteers, to offer a richer experience
  • see play/theatre skills as transferable; to work, to life
  • apply theatre to real world challenges; collaborations with schools, social services, business
  • promote theatre as innovation; diversified and adaptive

More about

Check out the Puente Theatre website to find out more about their work, creative collaborations and projects.  And you’ll appreciate Lina’s legacy after reading her bio.  [After 23 years as Puente’s artistic director, Lina handed the reigns over in 2011. She now freelances as a transformational theatre workshop instructor.]

Puente is one of a number of great local organizations bridging cultures.  Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) is another; as I wrote about in this post.  And the bridgers, ICA and Puente, work together, too!

Are you making the connection?

This post connects theatre with: diversity, collaboration, community, culture, relationships, change, innovation.

What do you connect theatre with?  How are you connecting theatre/stage to your profession?  Leave a comment.

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