“The Transition of Doodle Pequeno” is a show that brings a trilingual goat, a pumpkin-wielding troll and a dress-wearing boy named Reno all to one stage. Despite its comedy and playfulness, the show also examines serious issues like the lives of Mexican immigrant children, gender identity and homophobic bullying. The Current sat down with the show’s director, Communication senior Lindsay Amer, to talk about her passion for this complex yet fun play, which runs Feb. 27 through March 1 in the Louis Room of Norris University Center.
The Current: Tell us a little about the show.
Lindsay Amer: Our play is set on Halloween in Southern California. We meet our protagonist, Doodle, a young boy who has just moved into a new apartment with his Mama after his father was deported back to Mexico. He copes with these new circumstances with his imaginary trilingual goat — English, Spanish and goat! — Valencia. Soon, they meet another boy from the neighborhood, Reno, like the city in Nevada, who likes to wear dresses. Together, they meet the neighborhood bullies, come up against the local troll, eat blood pumpkins and battle the ever-present Santa Ana winds.
The Current: What made you want to direct this show?
LA: Something I am interested in as an artist and a storyteller is the untold story and the characters who are rarely seen. This play is unlike any I have ever read for children. It tackles huge ideas like gender and immigration, but ultimately it is an incredibly fun and hilarious play about friendship. It’s about two outcasts finding each other and discovering that their differences are what connect them.
The Current: What have you learned since working on the show?
LA: Learning how to communicate with and collaborate with designers has been a learning process for me throughout working on this production. We have really been able to come together under a singular vision of this play and have fun with the possibilities, bringing all the elements together to create a cohesive, poignant and exciting piece.
The Current: What are some of the biggest challenges?
LA: Because of the issues discussed in the play and the particular problems these kids deal with, it is easy to get distracted by those issues instead of focusing on the comedy and the friendships which are what keep the play centered and accessible.
The Current: What is the most rewarding part of working on Doodle?
LA: My actors have grown tremendously throughout this process. I am so incredibly proud of the work they are doing with these characters and in telling this story. But I think the most rewarding part hasn’t even happened yet … getting kids to come and see the show. I am so excited to see how they react and what they learn.
The Current: What do you hope the NU community takes away from the show?
LA: I hope the NU community can come away with a renewed sense of play from the whimsy of this production and reopening their imaginations with us. … The messages of this play are still entirely relevant to the college age group. We still judge people at face value. We are still completely trepidatious about making new friends and setting our differences aside in lieu of commonalities. We still need to be brave and stand up for those who deserve it. We can all still cling to our childhood just a little bit longer. I also hope they leave with a broader idea of the kinds of topics we can talk to kids about, a new definition of “age appropriate” and the importance of the kind of storytelling this play achieves.
The Current: Are there any upcoming shows or projects you want to tell us about?
LA: “Doodle Pequeno” will be touring to local Evanston elementary and middle schools during Spring Quarter, which is incredibly exciting.
The Current: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you really want campus to know about your work with Doodle?
LA: This particular play is so special to me and speaks a great deal to my personal mission as an artist-advocate. This is also a part of my senior honors thesis which is specifically looking at LGBTQ characters and narratives in theater for young audiences in an effort to expand scholarship on a mostly untouched topic for young people. But I mostly hope that people enjoy a lovely story about friendship and the child-like wonders of the imagination.