Public Housing Play "Por amor en el caser�o" Goes from the Stage to the Big Screen

[Photo: Proud participants are young residents from the largest public housing development in Puerto Rico]
Proud participants are young residents from the largest public housing development in Puerto Rico

Young, talented individuals from the largest public housing project in Puerto Rico have risen to stardom in a play by Antonio Morales that has been so well received that it is now becoming a movie. During the dozen years it has been on stage, the play has opened the eyes and hearts of viewers on the island and abroad to the sobering realities of our public housing projects. "Por amor en el caserío," (For Love in the Projects), is a play based on the life experiences of writer/producer Antonio Morales and what the youth of the housing project Luis Llorens Torres deal with on a daily basis, topped off by a good dose of comedy.

The two main characters, Cristal and Angelo, meet and fall in love, yet their love is wrought with sacrifice since they each have family members that belong to the feuding gangs that keep the housing project in constant war. Over 500 presentations of "Por amor en el caserío" deliver a clear message of hope and the strength that a united public housing community can achieve to put an end to gun and drug-related wars and violence.

The theater group has achieved incredible success and attracted numerous celebrities that participate in the play itself, and who are active behind the scenes to help these dedicated artists reach yet another level of success: the making of a commercial film to be presented in movie theaters in Puerto Rico, and the United States at the end of this year, as well as a public service campaign with mass media projection on TV and radio. The HUD San Juan office had the pleasure of seeing a short version of the play, and quickly became involved. Currently one of our HUD employees meets regularly with the producer and staff to provide support and help promote these talented individuals.

"Por Amor en el Caserío" ( producer Antonio Morales and actors have already participated in many television programs and press conferences, as well as an exclusive spot in the local noon news program on Univision. This special segment explores the unheard stories of empowerment, community service, homeless initiatives, and educational projects that public housing residents carry out in their communities.

"Instead of isolating myself or just being and observant of the problems, I chose to create a workshop where we could be open to creativity and release our feelings, transforming sadness, anger and despair into something positive," said Morales in a recent interview. "So we opened this space not only to my neighbors but to youth from other communities who wanted to participate. It grew slowly with the help of several organizations."

HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones recently visited Puerto Rico and had the opportunity to see the play. In a subsequent letter to Deputy Secretary Jones, Morales said "In the late 1990's, we learned an increase in prison sentencing and armed police officer presence made little difference in controlling drug crime in Puerto Rico. Moreover, we learned punishment does not drive behavior. However, what has been proven successful and what drives public housing youth to modify behavior has been peer modeling. This is why I created the theater group which includes a group of talented individuals from the largest public housing project in Puerto Rico, Llorens Torres, to star in my play, Por amor en el caserío."


Content Archived: October 3, 2014