Bilingual Production ‘Señora Tortuga’ to Open Theatre Season

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University invites audiences to indulge in the magic of storytelling as the theatre department opens its season with Señora Tortuga – a bilingual play featuring a young boy, Pedro, who is enchanted by tales told by the mysterious woman his family invites into their home.

Barrett ScroggsDirector Barrett Scroggs, right, a senior theater education major from Duluth, Ga., was introduced to the play by CSU theatre professor Brenda May Ito and instantly knew it would be a hit. “Señora Tortuga is a beautiful story that encourages young people to use their imaginations,” he said.

The production will run 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 10-12 at and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12-13, at CSU’s Theatre on the Park Mainstage in downtown Columbus.

In the story, Pedro’s mother tries to prevent him from using his imagination, saying, “Fill your head with fantasies and you’ll never know what’s real.” However, Pedro begins dreaming about the stories that he hears from Señora Tortuga.

“We see his imagination begin to grow,” said Scroggs, who added that storytelling is another important theme repeated in the play. “It shows the importance of telling stories and passing stories down through the family,” he said.

Señora Tortuga is part of the theatre department’s family series, and Scroggs said what he loves most about it is how it appeals to all ages. “Younger students,” he said, “will be entertained by the vibrant colors and exciting masks and costumes. They will also love to watch the characters act out different stories from Mexican folklore.”

Scroggs said older students also will be able to empathize with characters like Pedro in the way that he relates to his mother. “The show is bilingual, with part of the dialogue spoken in Spanish, so we are also very excited to be recommending it to high school Spanish programs,” he said.

Scroggs is no stranger to the stage. His resume includes working for the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (N.C.), touring the Midwest with the St. Paul, Minn.-based Climb Theatre Company, serving an internship the past two summers at the Omaha (Neb.) Theater for Young People and performing in and stage-managing numerous CSU main stage productions.

While this is his solo directing debut, he was assistant director for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was part of CSU’s Theater for Young Audiences Tour last spring. The tour will feature Señora Tortuga this fall for Georgia and Alabama schools through December. “We tour up to Atlanta, into Alabama and as far east as Camden County,” said Scroggs.

He confesses being passionate about the impact theatre has on young audiences. “Seeing a play live on the stage is much different from watching a movie,” he said. “There is much more room for the imagination. I am blessed to have the opportunity to direct a show for young audiences.”

Scroggs said he loves seeing a student watch a play for the first time and encourages his performers to make their experience unforgettable.

“One of the things that we tell the actors in the show is that this is going to be the only theatre that some of these students ever see,” he said.

A young audience can also be challenging. “Young people are the most honest audience,” he said. “If they love what you are doing they will tell you by laughing, cheering and sometimes audibly saying that they like it. Likewise, if they don’t like what you are doing, they will tell you that too. As a director, I have to step out of my own head and imagine how the audience would feel. You have to be open to thinking like a child in order to direct a show for them.”

Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, children, active military and CSU alumni and free for CSU faculty-staff (limit two) and students (limit one).

For more information, call the theatre box office at 706-507-8444 or go to http://theatre.colstate.edu/productions.asp.