We Are All Magical

Every year right before showtime, I wonder why I even bother writing and directing plays. And I jokingly tell others to don’t let me do this again, no matter how hard I beg. This year I went through that period, even if it was brief. I wrote about it on a blog entry I wrote for Voxxi.

Sometimes teaching middle school kids is like banging your head against the wall. But the banging must have worked, because the children did an outstanding performance of The Magical Seaweed on Friday, and then they top themselves on Saturday. Everybody had fun. They finally owned the play and ran with it. It wasn’t my play anymore, but theirs, and for that, I declare, I’ve succeeded. Thank you all who supported the children and I through this endeavor, including Jill Cloutier of Art From Scrap, Gary Smith at the La Cumbre Junior High Theater, Gloria and Lissa Ligget, Nancy Black, Marygrace Monteleone, OAS’ David Archer, Hedy Ciani, Jonathan Velasquez, Rose Ortiz, Tony Leon, Shari Hammond, Renee Mata, Josh Morales, and many others. We’re eternally grateful. Thank you kids for the opportunity to play with you. And thank you audience for showing up.

May this play help us believe we can do anything we set ourselves to do, even cleaning the plastic off the ocean. As the magical seaweed says, “We all have magical powers yet to be discovered.”

And may we do a play again.

You can find a selection of 100+ photos from the play in our PhotoShelter gallery, where you can order prints at a friendly price. Your purchase helps me want to do this again.


The Magical Seaweed: Youth Theater for the Ocean.

The Magical Seaweed: Mica’s Adventure in the Sea of Plastic, a play by Isaac Hernández and performed by students from Open Alternative Middle School (OAS), opens at La Cumbre Junior High Theatre (2255 Modoc Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93101) on March 16 and 17, at 6:00 pm (Admission $5). The play, inspired in part by a field trip taught by Art From Scrap Green Schools environmental educators, focuses on the impact that plastic litter is having upon the world’s oceans, while providing solutions and inspiration.

Hernández, a parent at OAS, as well as photographer, writer, and painter, says that The Magical Seaweed is a play for adults and children alike. “The kids add a great dose of humor to a very serious issue. In the play, we try to laugh at the problems while providing sustainability solutions.” Students at OAS worked with Hernández to invent their characters and to create the relevant story, learning by playing. The students designed and built their costumes and sets using plastic litter and trash they collected from their homes. Other materials were donated by Art From Scrap, environmental partner for this production.

“I was inspired to write a play about the negative impacts that plastic has on the ocean after going on the Watershed Resource Center field trip. I saw that many of the kids didn’t know about plastic in the ocean and that they seemed really interested. This motivated me to write the play.” Hernández shares. “The Magical Seaweed takes the mission of Art From Scrap, educating about the environment and arts, and makes people think about how their actions affect ocean health.”

Hernández was also inspired by many of the environmental leaders he has photographed and interviewed for the EcoHeroes Project, including oceanologist Sylvia Earle, Andy Lipkis from TreePeople, Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti, artificial leaf inventor Daniel Nocera, and William McDonough, co-author of Cradle to Cradle. The children learn about sustainable solutions while having fun and making their voices heard.

“Many people have worked to make The Magical Seaweed,” says Isaac. “It wouldn’t be possible without the students and their Open Alternative Middle School teacher, David Archer; plus the many parents, grandparents, students, and volunteers. In the same way, it will require the collaboration of many to find and implement solutions for a sustainable Planet Water. As Sylvia Earle told me, ‘the good news is that this is the best chance we’ve got. Never before did we know; and never again will we have such a great opportunity.’ This is part of the message of the play, that we can each contribute our grain of sand, while loving life.”

The evening will include a bake sale and raffle benefiting Art from Scrap and OAS, and a “Trash Art” gallery show of works created by the students. Hernández promises that “The Magical Seaweed will make you laugh and move you. The power of theater has always been to communicate current events. We all learned a lot in the process, like the fact that 70% of the Earth’s oxygen is generated by the oceans.”

The Magical Seaweed is dedicated to three beloved people our community recently lost: OAS teacher and parent Carmen Alexander, filmmaker Mike deGruy, and activist Selma Rubin. They embodied a love for the outdoors, the environment, the arts, and positive education. Carmen was a teacher in the class and contributed to the creation of The Magical Seaweed. Her son, Sasha, is a member of the cast.

March 16 and 17, 6pm
La Cumbre Junior High Theater
2255 Modoc Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Admission $5

Art lovers can invite friends via Facebook for the Friday or the Saturday event.

Isaac Hernández is available for interviews. Members of the press are invited to witness a rehearsal or attend the event with complimentary tickets. Contact isaacarte@gmail.com for more information.

About Art From Scrap:  Art From Scrap is Santa Barbara’s Environmental Education and Art Center.  Art From Scrap provides the community with a Green Schools environmental education program, an Arts Center, and a Reuse retail store. The Watershed Resource Center is managed by the AFS Green Schools environmental education program.

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