“La Fragua Theatre’s actors haven’t been recruited from academies or universities, but from poor and marginalized neighborhoods.”
“Sus actores los ha reclutado no de academias o universidades, sino de barriadas populares y colonias marginales.”
–Carlos M. Castro
(A slightly delayed flight from Miami to Honduras)
A flight from Miami to Honduras kicked off my two month visit with the Jesuit community in El Progreso. My goal for the trip is to write an academic article about one of the most innovative cultural phenomena in the country: La Fragua Theatre, a small company seeking to forge a Honduran society conscious of its rich cultural heritage and critical of the systems of power that seek to undermine it.
(The theatre’s logo, inspired by indigenous art from Copán)
A great example of a person who uses his privilege for good, Fr. Jack Warner, SJ, founded the theatre in 1979 with the desire to use drama as a means of cultural expression at the service of the poor. Many of the company’s actors come from marginalized communities, but they find at La Fragua hope for their personal and communal futures. Much of this hope stems from a restoration of and reengagement with the nation’s Mayan roots.
(The main stage)
On the main stage here above, the actors gather daily–except Sunday, of course–for musical practice, theatrical exercises, passionate exhortations, and rehearsals. Just a few days ago, one of the theatre’s most experienced performers preached movingly to the rest of the troupe about the example of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran martyr-saint who faced assassination after speaking in favor of a Christ-inspired socioeconomic structure benefitting the poor. The theatre seeks to honor Romero’s legacy by presenting both Christian and secular plays “from below,” that is, with the mind and heart of the oppressed.
(The Jesuit community’s patio)
The Jesuit community in El Progreso, Honduras, has a rich tradition of solidarity with the poor. In the town Jesuits run schools, radio programs, social justice centers, and parishes that embody our twin mission of instilling faith that does justice. The Jesuits in El Progreso live humbly; despite the constant, infernal heat, the Jesuits’ rooms have no air conditioning or insolation. The meals are simple and reflect the diet of the local population.
(A sunset view of the soccer field just outside the Jesuit community)
El Progreso’s landscape is picturesque. Mountains surround the burgeoning city. In the afternoon and evening, storm clouds gather and bring a refreshing rain that provides much-needed relief from the heat.
(The Jesuit chapel at San José Catholic Institute)
The Holy Spirit is the life source of the Jesuits’ tireless work in El Progreso. It is Christ who commissions his apostles to receive the Spirit that fortifies them for the opus dei, the work of God that continues in God’s people today. I pray that the Spirit with continually renew our fruitful mission in Honduras. I also pray that the Spirit will bring me closer to the people of El Progreso during my stay and behind.
Best wishes in Christ,
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.