Bilingual production features song, dance and an action-packed story

by: COURTESY PHOTO: CYNDI TURTLEDOVE - The miners are played by (clockwise from top left) Demaris Lozano of Hillsboro, Danae Dorn of Cornelius, Gloria Muñoz of Beaverton and Joshua Muñoz, also of Beaverton. What’s the difference between mole and a mole? It all depends on what language you’re speaking, said Cyndi Turtledove, whose team of young actors is prepared to answer the question in their playful and educational new show, “Tesoro - The Treasure of Sierra’s Padre.”

“Theater is the best teacher ever invented,” said Turtledove, the director of LESTA Bilingual Theater, whose current production features several Cornelius residents.

“It’s the best way to teach anything and language is no exception," she said. "The bilingual-ness of our plays helps Latinos improve their English and Anglos learn Spanish.”

The play doesn’t much feel like a formal lesson. There is singing and dancing. There are treasure hunters chased by a sheriff and his posse and a team of tricksters trying to keep Sierra from finding her father’s treasure. There is even a parody on a Humphrey Bogart classic film before they finally find the mysterious treasure.

The entire show is written using both Spanish and English, but Turtledove said that everyone can understand it.

“An actor might ask a question in English and the response to that question will be in Spanish, or vice versa.” She also uses lots of repetition and translation.

Turtledove, 75, first experimented with bilingual theater when she taught English at a Mexican university. She found it tremendously effective and brought it back to Washington County in 2004, 18 years after heading to Mexico for a three-month stay. She had planned live on next to nothing and spend the time writing.

"But I started doing theater in a restaurant – a lot of parodies about life in San Miguel – and just ended up staying.”

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