Little Tricksters

An insight into the work of young actors and performers from Los Sures

Little Tricksters (2012) follows the rehearsal process of the young performers, ages 6-13, in preparation for a theater and dance performance piece. The show is organized by the El Puente Arts program in the Southside of Williamsburg. The performance was called “Unmasking the Mask” and addresses the issues the Latino community faces with the impending takeover of their local junior high school by the Success charter network. But in the end, what you really see, is children being children, growing up one step at the time, playing different characters and roles, and trying to be the best they can.

Director’s Statement

Little Tricksters is a failed experiment. From the very first time I was wandering the streets of South Williamsburg and feeling the pulse of this community, I became curious to hear from the young ones. As they see their relatives move out of the neighborhood, what were they going through? As they hear their parents talking about how hard it is to stay in their apartments because the rents are getting so high?

I wondered how a child felt growing up in Los Sures, a neighborhood that has been changing at a very rapid pace with new restaurants and bars popping up almost every week, new condos going up on different street corners and bringing in new faces into their neighborhood. When I heard about an after school program organized by El Puente, a community organization based in South Williamsburg, I became very interested. Through this program, young performers, aged 8 to 13, develop a theatre/dance performance that deals with different issues that their community faces. In the year I was following them, the play dealt with the issues surrounding a new charter school moving into the same building of the old public school.

After filming for more than 3 months, I started to connect with these children like I was one of them. I lived their rehearsals like they would. I knew all the lines, all the movements, all the jokes. In the end, the issues they were conveying in the play didn’t really seem to be of their own. The struggles they were going through were not about the changes in the neighborhood (which was in fact, not their neighborhood anymore for most of these kids), but more about being young. The issues I was supposed to be capturing were mostly from the grown ups, the voices of this documentary. You rarely see them in this piece, but their presence is there, supporting them, teaching them, and also projecting their own fragilities into this world of ‘little tricksters.’ It was a failed experiment, but a very rewarding one.”

— Alexandre Gaspar Maia

Team

Alexandre Maia

Alexandre Maia

Alexandre Maia is a biologist studying molecular biology and cancer at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He is interested in documentary film, and other forms of exploring both fiction and non-fiction. He has produced a few short films that have been presented in Madrid (Spain), Braga (Portugal), New York and San Francisco.

Oresti Tsonopoulos

Oresti Tsonopoulos

Oresti Tsonopoulos is a multimedia storyteller who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Though his work predominantly lives online, his videos for The New York Times have been featured on JetBlue flights and his musician-centric pieces for NBC New York have been featured in taxi cabs across NYC. He studied recorded music at New York University, was a UnionDocs Fellow and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in journalism at The City University of New York (CUNY).

Alexandre Maia

Alexandre Maia

Alexandre Maia is a biologist studying molecular biology and cancer at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He is interested in documentary film, and other forms of exploring both fiction and non-fiction. He has produced a few short films that have been presented in Madrid (Spain), Braga (Portugal), New York and San Francisco.

Oresti Tsonopoulos

Oresti Tsonopoulos

Oresti Tsonopoulos is a multimedia storyteller who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Though his work predominantly lives online, his videos for The New York Times have been featured on JetBlue flights and his musician-centric pieces for NBC New York have been featured in taxi cabs across NYC. He studied recorded music at New York University, was a UnionDocs Fellow and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in journalism at The City University of New York (CUNY).

Credits

Directed and filmed by Alexandre Gaspar Maia

Editors: André Almeida, Christopher Allen, Alexandre Gaspar Maia
Extra camera and sound: Oresti Tsonopoulos, André Almeida

UnionDocs Collaborative Studio Director: André Almeida

UnionDocs Artistic Director: Christopher Allen

2011-2012 Collaborative Fellows: Adam Khalil, Alexandre Maia, Claire Richard, Elizabeth Lawrence, Kaitlin Prest, Lucas Carlisle, Meg Kelly, Oresti Tsonopoulos, Sonia Gonzalez, Olivia Koski

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