One Friday morning, two years ago, I got my usual call from Pat Costello at God’s Love We Deliver. She was letting me know where to deliver my clients’ meals that day. By chance, she asked me if I had seen the documentary, Antonia Pantoja: Presente, the night before on PBS. I had heard the names Antonia Pantoja and ASPIRA many times but didn’t know much about either of them. What Pat told me in that conversation intrigued me.
I felt compelled to watch the documentary that afternoon on the PBS website. I was amazed at what this woman, Antonia Pantoja, had accomplished, and how she had devoted her life to helping the Puerto Rican community with such commitment. Being Puerto Rican, it saddened me that I didn’t know much about her. I wanted to learn more.
The next day I ordered Memoir of a Visionary: Antonia Pantoja. I read it in two days. I could not stop thinking about her. When I obsess like that it usually means a new play is being conceived. But having read the memoir, it occurred to me that just writing a play about the life and work of Antonia Pantoja was not enough. She was a woman of action. Then I started thinking that theater could inspire people to follow her example. So I decided to use my expertise in drama-in-education as a way to motivate the audience to take action based on what they had seen in the play. This is how I came up with the whole idea for the Antonia Pantoja Project.