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Victor Valley High School drama alumni get back to their ‘Roots’

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VICTORVILLE, Calif. (VVNG.com) — Three Victor Valley High School grads are giving back to the drama program that helped launch their theater careers.

VVHS Troupe 2757 is presenting “Roots”, a double feature containing two plays written by Jackrabbit alumni: Larry Mayorquin’s award-winning play “Caminos: A Mother’s Journey” and Josiah Delgado’s playwriting debut “Mars in the Mountain.” They will be performed together at Victor Valley High School’s Performing Arts Center starting Sept. 28. 

The name “Roots” was chosen for the production because both young playwrights can trace their careers back to the VVHS drama program. A third former Jackrabbit, Theresa Murray, is now a professional stage actress who has been attending rehearsals and giving notes to the young actors. 

Victor Valley High School student Liz Sandoval (foreground) rehearses for the play “Caminos: A Mother’s Journey” along with Yaya Paez and Danny Gutierrez-Garcia (background) at the VVHS Performing Arts Center. The play will be shown as part of the “Roots” double feature starting Sept. 28 at VVHS.

“It’s fantastic to see that the VVHS drama program not only allows students to explore their passions and interests while in high school, but it can also lead to rewarding careers in the future,” Victor Valley Union High School District Superintendent Carl J. Coles said.    

“Caminos: A Mother’s Journey” follows seven Latin American migrant women in their quest for a better life. It was shown last year at Hollywood Fringe (a large Los Angeles theater festival), where it won the Hollywood Encore Producers’ Award, “Pick of the Fringe” and the Diversity Scholarship in addition to being nominated for Best Drama.

“I watched ‘Caminos’ at Hollywood Fringe and I loved it,” longtime VVHS drama teacher Jennifer Nocera said. 

Victor Valley High School students Yaya Paez, Liz Sandoval, Kimora Williams, Danny Gutierrez-Garcia, and Karla Salcidi rehearse for the play “Caminos: A Mother’s Journey” at the VVHS Performing Arts Center. The play will be shown as part of the “Roots” double feature starting Sept. 28 at VVHS.

Nocera asked Mayorquin (a 2014 graduate) if VVHS could stage a production of “Caminos”, and he agreed. Around that same time, Delgado reached out to Nocera about premiering his first play at VVHS, and the two one-act plays were combined into a single production.

Delgado’s “Mars in the Mountain” is a dystopian sci-fi thriller set about 30 years in the future. Delgado (VVHS class of 2012) said his work “urges the audience to question the world that they are in” and that the young actors found a correlation to their own lives, inspiring them to question things they are told. 

“These projects lend a voice to people who are usually silenced in this country,” said Brynne Elmore, one of the student actors.

After a recent rehearsal, Murray said she was impressed with the performances as well as the state-of-the-art PAC, a major facility upgrade for VVHS that was completed in 2019 but hasn’t yet hosted many performances due to the pandemic.   

“It’s so rewarding to come back to my alma mater; this theater space is amazing and it’s so wonderful that (the new PAC) has finally come,” said Murray, a 2007 grad. “My time at Victor really was my launchpad and Mrs. Nocera has always been in my corner. None of these kids have to do (theater) professionally but there are so many life skills to be learned: teamwork, problem-solving, the list goes on and on.” 

“Roots” will be performed Sept. 28-30 at Victor Valley High and will also be live-streamed. The Sept. 28 and Sept. 30 shows begin at 7 p.m., and the Sept. 29 show begins at 4 p.m. Visit https://www.onthestage.tickets/show/victor-valley-high-school/6303eb7e8a687313a1e7aac1 to purchase tickets for the live or online event. Pre-sale tickets are $10 for general admission ($12 at the door) and $5 for students. 

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