Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cinderella #222 Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans: A Salsa Fairy Tale


Shoes make a statement!
These shoes have the flag of Zimbabwe. 

Once upon a time, "in a land right about...THERE, there was a young girl from Puerto Rico named Cinderella." She had the opportunity to go to New York City as an exchange student to improve her English, so she took it. But she was unprepared for what she found at Pumpkin Grove Elementary school. Math she could do, and reading was no problem. And basketball? That was a game she knew how to play for sure. But what she wasn't ready for was the bad attitude of some of the kids. Especially Rosa, her house mate, and so-called step sister. That girl was the most popular one in school, and here is what she thought of Cinderella: not much. In fact, once she realized that the new girl's name was actually Cinderella, she decided to make her live up it. So she begins ordering her around. "Cinderella! Clean this up. That's the story, right? Cinderella cleans and the wicked cool stepsister lives happily ever after. The end." But luckily for Cinderella, there is someone looking out for her. Unfortunately, it's not a fairy godmother. You see, the fairy is on vacation, and her husband forgot to give her the message about girl who would need help. So, to make up for that, he decides to help himself. Yes, he became a Padrino, or fairy godfather. His first act of magic is to replace the basketball, right in the middle of a game, with a parchment. The kids read it, and learn that "Mr. Prince, the most famous basketball coach in the land is coming" to their school. He is to choose a single girl to play on the "Sooper Dooper Eastern Western Division Basketball Team." Later, back at Rosa's house, Cinderella unpacks her clothes.That's when Rosa sees the shoes she's brought. Oh, does she think they are funny looking. Rosa wants to know who gave them to her. And when Cinderella uses her Spanish-English dictionary, and tells her that they were a gift from her fairy godmother, or "hada madrina", Rosa cries foul. She wants a fairy godmother too! And she demands to know what those strange shoes can do. Now Cinderella bursts into song and ends up doing a salsa number. She sings that her shoes aren't magical, only practical, and then tells how they let her walk to her goals, one step at a time.  Now Rosa's best friend, Joey, begins to think that dorky Cinderella is kind of cool. And Rosa doesn't like this one bit. SHE is the cool one, and she NEEDS Joey to help her make sure the other kids don't like Cinderella at all. She makes Cinderella spend the whole weekend cleaning the house — and doing Rosa's homework! Cinderella wishes for the fairy to help her, and  now the Padrino despairs. He says to himself,"I was supposed to help, but instead, I put this cleaning girl with this bossy girl and ruined the story! How am I going to fix this?" Later that night, Rosa is crying to herself, wishing desperately that someone would help her win the spot on the Sooper Dooper Eastern Western Division Team. That's when the Padrino appears to her, accidentally. When Rosa complains about all the great things Cinderella can do. When Padrino isn't following, she decides to set him straight, telling the story of Cinderella. When she gets to the part about the prince and his search, she tells Padrino that now her life is kind of like that. After all, Coach Prince is coming to choose "the fairest of the mall". Padrino groans and corrects her, saying, "Fairest of THEM ALL, not THE MALL!" And Rosa says, "Oh. Anyway..." So Padrino listens patiently, then decides to provide a bit of equity. He tells Rosa that he is going to help her get ready for "the ball...game", then transforms Rosa's clothes and shoes. Instead of being the stylish t-shirt, jeans and "x109 Super Jordans with purified air-filter heels, state-of-the-art velocity rubber soles, and high-tension reaction laces" that she is used to, there is a sudden change. Her t-shirt is "not a polysaturated-polyester smooth-wearing t. Her new shorts —gasp!— "don't have a logo". How can she compete in the tournament in such uncool cltothes? That was her only advantage over the totally unfashionable clothing that poor Cinderella arrived in. But when she complains to her Padrino that having her clothes match the Puerto Rican girl's is  "so unfair", she gets a surprise. "Actually," the fairy godfather says, "this is the fairest of them all!" When the big day arrives, Rosa and Cinderella are ready to play some serious basketball. Joey is there as the star cheerleader. He works the crowd, chanting, "I say PUMPKIN, you say SQUASH! PUMPKIN (SQUASH!) PUMPKIN! (SQUASH!). Somehow the fairy godfather gently puts the real announcer out of commission, and steps to the podium instead, asking the girls to introduce themselves. Joey cheers for each one, infuriating Rosa. Padrino narrates the plays. "Cinderella has the ball and she fast handles with a wicked cool crossover". But when the game comes down to the final seconds, with Cinderella's team in the lead, Rosa decides to pull out all the stops. The action goes into slow-mo, and we watch as Rosa "stomps on Cinderella's foot (...pulling off her shoe and throwing it away") Cinderella is shocked and hurt. And mad. "BASTA!" she declares. ENOUGH! And now she goes after Rosa. That's when the fairy godfather blows his whistle and shouts, "Both these girls are OUT  of here!" Turning to the fighting girls he adds,"Not only are you disqualified, there's a detention for you (points to Cinderella) and a detention for you (points to Rosa). And that is how, to both of their dismay, they find themselves pacing the detention room together. Both are furious, and each blames the other. Then the words pour out. Cinderella tells Rosa, through tears, "I want to be friends, be like you. But you just say NO! No, Cinderella, no Spanish...no amigos...no fun!". Then she tells her that she happens to like herself, and her clothes, and that yes, she does like to eat rice and beans. And that Rosa can write that all over the whole school if she wants to, because it's true. This triggers a duet, In Your Shoes, in which the girls learn to see things from another's point of view. When detention is over, and they are reunited with Joey, they learn that HE is going to the Sooper Dooper Eastern Western Division tournament. As a cheerleader! His winning cheer goes, "Hooooooooo! Cause we're the Pumpins, the the mighty pumpkins, and we've got supmkin!" The fairy godfather flutters over them, clutching his newly arrived fairy wings! He earned them by bringing Cinderella and Rosa together after all. And they all go on to another school year. 
From: Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans: A Salsa Fairy Tale by Zacarias, K. & Wicks La Pluma, D. (2008) Dramatic Publishing
Notes: This is a very  urban, contemporary play. It is described as being appropriate for upper elementary or middle school, and I think kids of that age would have a great time watching it, or performing it, though it has a very definite New York City vibe. A good thing, but quite a different flavor than here in Northern California. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: Dramatic Literature and Geography/Culture of Puerto Rico
1. Read this play. 
2. Write for permission to perform the play: Dramatic Publishing Company, 311 Washington St., Woodstock, IL 60098. 

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