Children on stage performing “Occupy Your Life,” a new play that is the collaborative efforts of People’s Theatre Project and C.H.A.L.K., or Choosing Healthy and Active Lifestyles for Kids, a program of The Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
Ocupa tu vida; occupy your life.
That was the direct message The People’s Theatre Project was sending out with their new play, as performed last Wed., Dec. 14th by a cast of 15 children from Washington Heights.
The play, titled “Occupy your Life,” naturally, was performed at the Wintergarden Plaza of The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital on Broadway and 165th Street, and consisted of different acts together with poems and songs that promoted healthy eating and living.
Complete with bright picket signs, the children “protested” for healthier lifestyles for their peers and themselves, but above all, they advocated for everyone to “live your life”.
The audience, filled with proud camera-toting parents, was tickled to see the children come in from behind them, singing: “Vive tu vida; live your life.”
While protest in song has become a common sight and sound of late, it was unusual to hear it emanate from children.
“We believe in the 99 percent, in the power of the people to create change, which is why we choose theatre,” said Mino Lora, founder of The People’s Theatre Project. “The kids actually came up with the theme. Lora noted that Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez’s daughter is also involved in the program, and that the family’s experience with the Occupy Wall Street protests, in which Councilmember Rodriguez was arrested, also played a role in the creative process.
“That came out…as well,” added Lora.
The People’s Theatre Project, established in 2008, has united with other programs in the community to bring plays like this to fruition. This particular play was in collaboration with C.H.A.L.K., or Choosing Healthy and Active Lifestyles for Kids, a program of The Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
“The People’s Theatre Project is a taskforce that is trying to spread the word of how to live a healthy life in a positive way,” said Lora. “Obesity is a very big part of this community. This is a fun and friendly way of spreading the word to live healthy.”
Parents, in turn, were happy to witness their children be a part of a movement they considered positive.
“I let my son be a part of it because, between the Xbox and PlayStation, I think it’s time to get him out of the house, and off the television, to do something. I’m very pleased with the outcome,” said Amanda Trapani, parent of one of the cast members, Finn McCormick.
The cast member spent 6 weeks learning the message they were sending out during their play, and incorporating it into their lifestyles.
“I’m staying healthy by eating healthy things like hummus,” said McCormick.