Plena is a music performance in the form of storytelling song. Plena is originally a Puerto Rican musical form. To appreciate the full scope and meaning of plena, we must engage in a journey to explore its cultural milieu and history. The aim of this teaching guide is to use the documentary film, Plena is Work, Plena is Song, as a vehicle to pursue such a journey of exploration. This guide is meant to be primarily for teachers of Puerto Rican history and Social Studies courses from the 9-12 grade level, as well as teachers of introductory freshman courses in Puerto Rican History, sociology and humanities at the university level.
Two key broad questions drive the purpose of this guide:
1) What role does popular folk music play in survival struggles and the remaking of immigrant, migrant and indigenous people’s communities within the U.S.? And,
2) How can folk songs be a source of oral history and a way to learn about a people’s history and culture?
Plena is Work, Plena is Song