La Maleta (The Suitcase) begins with Roca and her Grandmother packing Roca's suitcase in haste so that she can escape her native Colombia. She must go to North America where she will be safer. Roca refuses to leave without her Grandmother who has to think quickly and tells Roca she'll hide in the suitcase. The Grandmother tells Roca to close her eyes and count to ten. When Roca opens her eyes the suitcase is closed and her Grandmother is no longer there. Believing that her Grandmother is in the suitcase, Roca travels to Toronto where she stays with her Aunt Claudia and is enrolled in a local school. On her first day at school Roca arrives clutching her suitcase and is bullied by the students because she is wearing different clothes and carrying around her suitcase. At recess, Roca escapes to the playground where she meets her imaginary friend the Kogi Girl. The Kogi are an indigenous people of Colombia that her Grandmother had told her stories about. Roca and the Kogi Girl meet Paz, a boy from Roca's class. Paz is an immigrant who was adopted from Colombia when he was very young, so he doesn't remember Spanish very well and only speaks English. Roca and Paz are able to begin to communicate and learn a little more of each other's language. Paz explains to Roca what a refugee is and connects with her through their shared Colombian history. Using their imaginations Roca, Paz and the Kogi Girl enter the suitcase in search of Roca's Grandmother. Paz learns more about Colombia through Roca's eyes. They find her Grandmother, who helps Roca find the courage, hope and strength to adapt to her new home and encourages them to return to school. After returning, Roca and Paz present what they have learned to the class and invite the students to join them inside the suitcase – because if you use your imagination everything is possible.
SOFÍA RODRÍGUEZ - CAST
Sofía was born and raised in the City of Mountains: Monterrey, Mexico. A multidisciplinary actor, creator and collaborator currently based in Toronto. Her recent work for young audiences includes Dora nominated A Merry Munsch Pyjama Party and Princess Knight (Solar Stage). Other credits include: Beautiful Man (Factory Theatre), Noor (Generous Friend), Shadow Girls (Pencil Kit Productions), El Retorno/I Return (Theatre Aquarius, Riser) PETS (Changeup, Shadowland Theatre).
OSCAR MORENO - CAST
Originally born in Bogota, Colombia, Oscar Moreno moved to London, Ontario with his family in after having lived in New Orleans for three years. In London, the prestigious High School Project at The Grand Theatre awakened and fostered his passion for the performing arts. Oscar moved to Toronto to study Theatre Production at Ryerson University. Upon graduation, Oscar was cast as Ritchie Valens in The Buddy Holly Story (Theatre Northwest, Grand Theatre). Since then, Oscar has appeared in short films and television series. Oscar will be making his feature film debut in Thom Fitzgerald’s latest film Stage Mother. Starring Jacki Weaver, Adrian Grenier and Lucy Liu.
JILL HARLAND - CAST
Jill Harland has had the good fortune to work in theatres across Canada, including Neptune Theatre (Halifax), Rainbow Stage (Winnipeg), Stage West Calgary, Sudbury Theatre Centre and the Palace Grand (Dawson City, Yukon). Some favourite productions include: The Ladies Foursome, A Christmas Story, Circle Mirror Transformation, Footloose and Hairspray. She is a graduate of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre School. Recent television credits include: Anne with an E, Murdoch Mysteries and American Gods. Upon seeing theatre at the age of nine, Jill exclaimed, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up!” And even though she isn’t completely grown up yet, she is very happy that she has pursued a life in the arts.
JESSICA ESMERALDA ZEPEDA - CAST
Jessica Esmeralda Zepeda is a performer based in Tkaronto with a diaspora from (Abya Yala) El Salvador. Jessica uses mythology, sci-fi, fashion, and karaoke to explore a persona named Sinverguenzilla, an alien deity from a dystopian future. Jessica has performed and toured with Roseneath’s La Maleta back in 2015, and has opened The Rhubarb’s Festival’s first week programming in 2018 and 2019 with their show Empty Orchestra Dreamland.
CRISTINA HERNANDEZ - STAGE MANAGER
Since age 7, she made it her life’s goal to be part of shows that can inspire anyone to create stories, express themselves, and be courageous. Previous credits: Singalong Jubilee (Guild Theatre) Dorian Gray (George Brown Theatre), Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman (George Brown Theatre), Mercury Man: The Last Performance of Orson Welles (Dramatic Hat Productions), The Marriage of Figaro (Toronto City Opera), Someone Between (Aspara Theatre Company), The Best Dad in the World (& Other Sad Stories) (Monocosm), Evidence to the Contrary (Tree of Life Theatre Company), Proof (Theatre UnBlocked), Iolanthe (North Toronto Players), and many more! Cristina would like to thank her family and friends for all the support and advice they have given her from home and abroad.
BEATRIZ PIZANO - PLAYWRIGHT
Beatriz Pizano is the Artistic Director of Aluna Theatre, a company that creates culturally diverse performance work, with a focus on Latin Canadian and women artists. She has written and directed a trilogy about women and war: La Comunión (2010), Madre (2008), For Sale (2003) that have received 4 Dora awards and 13 nominations. La Maleta (The Suitcase)”earned her a 2014 Dora nomination. She is the recipient of the 2014 K.M Hunter Award, the 2009 John Hirsch Prize for direction, The Ken McDougall Award, the Chalmers Fellowship, and the Urjo Kareda. La Maleta was first commissioned as a short play by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation and was published in English and in French. Madre was published in the first ever collection of Latin Canadian plays ‘Fronteras Vivientes’ by Playwrights Canada Press.
ANDREW LAMB - DIRECTOR
Andrew Lamb is the Artistic Director of Roseneath Theatre and Theatre Awakening in Toronto. Selected directing credits: Ladies and Gentlemen Boys and Girls, Birds of a Feather, Outside, The Money Tree, La Maleta-The Suitcase (Roseneath), Don’t Talk To Me Like I’m Your Wife (Summerworks), Chasing Margaret Flatwood (Toronto Fringe), In This World (Roseneath/Tarragon), Dib and Dob and the Journey Home (Roseneath/National Arts Centre), The (Post) Mistress (Thousand Islands/Neptune/Ship’s Co.), With Love and a Major Organ (Next Stage/Toronto Fringe), My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding (Mirvish/Fringe). Andrew has been nominated for two Dora Awards for Outstanding Direction, is on the board of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres and is the director of the hit web series A Gay Victorian Affair (agayvictorianaffair.com).
LINDSAY ANNE - SET AND COSTUME DESIGN
Lindsay Anne has designed sets and costumes for theatre and dance productions of all sizes, both scripted and devised. Selected projects include: As You Like It (Canadian Stage), Bingo! (Factory Theatre), Evil Dead: The Musical (Starvox Entertainment), Dinner At Seven-Thirty (Theatre Rusticle), HOMEbody (Shannon Litzenberger Dance), and Sia (Cahoots). She has regularly led workshops in high schools as well as at Canadian Stage, Tarragon Theatre, and the Sears Ontario Drama Festival. Two of her costumes have been on display at the Design Exchange, and she was the recipient of the 2007 Pauline McGibbon Award, as well as five Dora Award nominations, though never a bride.
DIEGO MARULANDA - SOUND DESIGN
Born in Bogota,Columbia, Diego Marulanda is a well established dance, theatre, film and television scoring composer. He lives in Toronto, where he has had an active music career as a composer, performer, music director, music arranger and producer since 1988. He is especially well known for his work in the area of World Music. Diego’s talent as a composer, band leader and musician and his CDs Rueda La Bolita, Ke’Ma , Por El Sol, El Otro Lado and La Verraquera, have garnered acclaim nationally and abroad. He was nominated for the Juno Awards in 1999 and Canadian Music Week in 2001 and 2006. Diego’s music has been heard on television series including La Femme, Nikita and Peter Benchley’s Amazon.
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Social Justice Classroom Mandate
In My Classroom, I:
• Work to provide classroom materials and activities that represent the diversity, backgrounds, and experiences of students;
• Use "teachable moments" to address non-inclusive, disrespectful, or discrminatory classroom behaviours;
• Use inclusive and respectful language and approaches in all interactions with students, parents and families;
• Demonstrate a belief that all students can learn and a commitment to meeting the needs of all students in diverse ways;
• Communicate and work effectively with a diverse range of parents and families;
• Understand that equity and inclusive education principles apply to every student and not just to a group of certain students;
• Assume responsibility for examining and taking steps to modify personal beliefs and biases that are inconsistent with equity and inclusive educaiton pricinples.
More Than a Play (a publication of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario)
“All aspects of the school environment .... Should draw on and validate the linguistic and ethnocultural diversity of the community”.
“Even schools that serve predominantly white English-speaking communities need to help all students and parents to value diversity and interact effectively with people whose background is different from their own, because multilingualism and multiculturalism are realities in Canadian society and in the world.”