Out of the Mouths of Babes: Kid Quixote

Drexel University hosted a unique performance on February 19, 2019 at Van Rensselaer Hall on its campus. “The Traveling Serialized Aventures of Kid Quixote” is performed by immigrant children ranging in age from seven years old to fifteen. The group hails from Brooklyn, New York, and is led and taught by Steven Haff, in the afterschool program, Still Waters in a Storm. Dr. Rogelio Miñana, Head of the Global Studies & Modern Languages Department, was the Drexel connection. Co-sponsors included the College of Arts & Sciences, English & Philosophy, Sociology and History.

Here is a short clip from their performance at Hunter College:

On Tuesday, the students arrived by bus at around noon and first went to City Hall for lunch. Later, they squeezed in a tour of Philadelphia before arriving at Drexel to get ready for their 4:00 pm performance.  The hall, which had chairs on the ground floor and in the balconies, was packed with Drexel students. There is no stage in the space, but a small square of about 10×10 was the playing space. An electronic keyboard, guitar and ukelele accompanied. The Traveling Serialized Aventures of Kid Quixote is a musical (music composed by Kim Sherman) and it is a constant work in progress for five years. The group of 15 children and Haff are 2.5 years into the project. IMG_20190219_174237

The children, who are all bilingual in Spanish and English, have read Don Quixote and their musical play is an interpretation that relates to their own lives and current events. For those that don’t know, Cervantes wrote Don Quixote in the early 1600s. It was published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615. This is a massive volume, and it is first and foremost impressive that children so young are reading it, and that they understand it enough to adapt it into a play.

According to Haff, the performance that they take on the road has been a collaboration. All of the decisions about what goes into the play are discussed with the youngsters and they reach a consensus. There are no auditions for this program. As they work through the script and music, they decide who should play which parts, and parts change periodically.

What makes this work so special is the fresh and natural approach to a very old classic. Don Quixote,  is the quintessential dreamer who just will not give up. The young cast revels in his heroism (actually played by a girl in this version) and is comfortable and at home with their creation.  They go back and forth between English and Spanish and it is obvious how much fun they are having. Their innocence is endearing and their passion, inspiring.  IMG_20190219_171949

Drexel’s venue was bigger than any that the group had performed in before. The audience watched as the group performed a “sound check” to see if their voices would project to the back of the hall. Once everything was deemed to be in order, the adventure began! After the show there was a short talk back and all of the children were enthusiastic to share their thoughts on the play and the process.

For more information, please visit the website: http://www.stillwatersinastorm.org/