Óyeme, the Beautiful
Written by Miriam Gonzales
Directed by Elena Velasco

Most appropriate for Grades 7+

Laura and Valentina are teenagers just trying to make it through another day in middle school. However, unlike many of their peers, they are refugees from Central America who have fled brutal violence in their home countries to find shelter and pursue their dreams in the United States. Step inside their shoes, hear their stories, see their struggle, and feel their strength as we move through their day. Óyeme, the Beautiful brings to light the undaunted courage and beautiful spirit that fuels these young people, and teaches us the power of friendship, family, and hope.


Performances are followed by a 30-minute audience workshop led by an Imagination Stage teaching artist. Performance and workshop running time is 75 minutes. Schools and community groups must be able to designate a 20×20 open space (or stage) for our set and performers. 


Thanks to the support of the Multi Arts Program fund, we will be developing a new play in collaboration with DC area refugee youth throughout 2021. If you are interested in learning more, partnering, or supporting this work, please contact [email protected].


Try our ¡Óyeme! Learning Guide!

¡Óyeme! Testimonials

“The performance moved and motivated students to share their stories on a deeper level… I’ve learned a lot of details about my students’ stories that they had not shared with me. I think that seeing a story that reflected their own on stage made them feel less alone.”

– Virginia High School Teacher

“Gracias por todo. Recordar nuestro pasado ayuda mejorar el presente.”




“Thank you for everything. Remembering our past helps to make a better present.”

– Maryland High School Student


¡Óyeme! in the News

“As their eyes locked with each of the four Latino actors on stage, the students were placed on a sometimes scary emotional roller coaster. At times they laughed with glee at the countless familiar Central American childhood references that gripped their hearts throughout the play — but there were moments where you could hear a pin drop.”

“Young Refugees See Their Life Stories On Stage.” WAMU, April 2019

“Two other students who had been struggling with their cultural identity ‘were beaming with pride while explaining components of the play and the journey to their classmates. I think they took a lot of pride in being able to answer the many questions posed by their non-Spanish-speaking classmates.’ Seeing their experiences reflected and hearing their language onstage was affirming.”

“Immigrant Representation Matters Too.” American Theatre, April 2018

“Sharing those ideas would eventually fuse the teens into an extended family from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, giving them perspective, says Anastasia. ‘It makes you realize a lot of stuff. Like there are stories after your stories and they’re better than yours and worse than yours.’”

“‘Big Stories’ and Healing at Theater Workshop for Central American Youth.” WAMU, July 2015

BBC World News America:

¡Óyeme! is a collaborative project that responds to the surge of refugee children fleeing violence from Central America who have arrived in Montgomery County. Many of the children have experienced horrific circumstances in their country of origin, as well as in the migration here.


Our Project partners include Imagination Stage, The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), Montgomery County Department of Recreation, Council member Nancy Navarro, and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Street Outreach Network (SON).


¡Óyeme! strives to provide a creative arts outlet for young people, utilizing best practice culturally-based, trauma-informed theatre and arts activities to create a sense of community among the participants, and provide a safe space for immigrant youth to share their stories. Our hope is that as a result of our efforts not only will the children feel welcomed, but they can begin the healing process that will allow them to assimilate into their new community. There is no better way to connect to another human being than through the arts.


Our Education Team is currently working on Óyeme workshops with youth in partnership with Street Outreach Network (Montgomery County Health and Human Services), Kids in Need of Defense, and Watkins Mill High School ESOL classes. Students in these programs utilize the arts to share their own stories through poetry, performances and writing. Based on the experiences of the young people in the Óyeme workshops, Imagination Stage commissioned the play Óyeme, the Beautiful to build empathy and understanding in the community.


Joanne Seelig Lamparter

Director of Education and Theatre for Change
[email protected]



Chelsey Christensen
Director of Development
[email protected]

Thank You to Our Lead Supporters

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Hispanic Heritage Foundation
Maryland Humanities
Multi-Arts Production Fund