Here are a few of the story lines from the television Zorro episodes that can be adapted into learning skits that teach the political, social, and economic climate of Alta California during Spanish rule. Please adapt them as you deem appropriate for your students.
Props : sword of card board and yard stick and black eye mask are a basic requirement for the lead character. A cape and hat is suggested.
The Hero Arrives
The story of the masked rider in Old California opens as Don Diego de la Vega is returning to California from Spain, where he has been studying for several years. He passes the time at sea by fencing with the ship's captain, who tells him that the Pueblo de Los Angeles is under the rule of a cruel dictator, Capitan Monastario. This helps Diego understand the meaning behind a vague letter his father sent, urging him to return home.
Realizing that open opposition to Monastario and his troops would be fruitless, Diego decides to work in secrecy. He assumes the role of a foppish student more interested in books than in swordplay. To protect his true identity, Diego will become El Zorro - "The Fox". His servant Bernardo, a mute, also takes on a new role when he decides to pretend he is deaf, thus allowing him access to secrets he can share with Diego.
Not long after they arrive in Los Angeles, the travelers are provided with proof of the capitan's cruelty. Don Torres, a neighbor of Diego's, is thrown into jail for treason, and others are jailed for taxes they cannot pay. Diego notes the injustices in silence before traveling to his father's hacienda.
Diego's arrival first pleases then saddens his father, Don Alejandro. Diego decides not to endanger him with knowledge of his plans, and the older man's hurt at his son's seeming inaction provides even greater incentive for Diego to ride as Zorro. He takes Bernardo to a secret valley where a beautiful horse has been cared for while Diego was away. Tornado will remain hidden until Zorro is ready to appear.
Zorro's first act is to save the life of Don Torres, whom Monastario plans to release and then kill, claiming the prisoner had escaped. Sneaking into the fort, Zorro cuts the saddle straps on the soldiers' horses so they can't interfere. He then frees Torres, who escapes while Zorro battles the capitan. With Monastario locked in one of his own cells, Zorro rides off without fear of the lancers while their leader, the bumbling Sergeant Garcia, fearfully frees his capitan. Zorro leaves a warning nailed to the gate of the fort, promising Monastario that he will avenge any future injustices.
Airdate: 12/19/57. Guest Cast: Britt Lomond (Capitan Monastario), Romney Brent (Padre Felipe), Tony Russo (Carlos Martinez), Elvera Corona (Pilar Fuentes). Directed by: Norman Foster. Teleplay by: Norman Foster.
Two men's jealousy over a barroom dancer becomes a central point in Monastario's latest plot to discredit Zorro when he arrests Carlos Martinez for killing a man in a sword fight. The commandante realizes that Martinez bears a strong resemblance to Zorro, so he offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for his impersonating Zorro. The offer is gladly accepted, for the alternative is death.
Monastario puts his plan into motion by inviting all of the landowners to a party and arranging for the fake Zorro to rob the guests at swordpoint. Diego is suspicious of the invitation, which is out of character for the commandante, and he attends the party suspecting just such a plot. When the substitute Zorro begins his robbery, he's thwarted by the real outlaw in a confusing battle between two apparently identical foes. Zorro's superior fighting skills enable him to best his opponent, and the landowners demand that Monastario put Martinez back in prison to stand trial.
Zorro visits the Sierras
Perico, a recent arrival to the pueblo of Los Angeles, sees a gypsy girl trying to pay for a purchase with several gold nuggets. Diego and Alejandro realize that news of a gold discovery will cause a rush of "gold fever" and their peaceful way of life will be threatened, so they try to suppress the news.
Their plan fails when Perico kidnaps the girl, hoping to force the location of the gold from her. She tells him a band of Indians had found the gold and is forced to lead Perico to them. The villain discovers a vast cave with walls of gold and is amazed at the sight but is even more surprised to find that Zorro has followed them. Perico escapes when the Indians arrive and take Zorro and Bernardo hostage, and he waits for a chance to return for the gold.
Bernardo helps Zorro distract their guards, and the two men escape, only to run into the hiding Perico. As the two swordsmen duel, the Indian chief realizes more white men are sure to follow in a search for the gold, so he orders his men to remove a large rock propping up the cave walls. An avalanche almost catches Zorro in its path, and he barely escapes the falling dirt. Perico is not as lucky, for he tries to grab a bag of gold and instead is crushed.