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REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL CELEBRATES ITS REOPENING WITH LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, PATRONS, BOARD MEMBERS, AND GOOD FRIENDS

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Photo: Lucille Oken (Community Relations Manager, Bank of America), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Luis Miranda and Rafael Sánchez (Executive Artistic Director, Repertorio Español).

HELD WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6th, 2021, IN NYC

REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL (138 E. 27 St.) – one of Off-Broadway’s longest-running, continuous theaters, and the only company that presents plays in Spanish with simultaneous English translation in true repertory form in NYC – marked its rebirth after more than a year and a half, with an intimate reception followed by a performance of Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Award-winning LA BREVE Y MARAVILLOSA VIDA DE OSCAR WAO (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), directed and adapted for the stage by Marco Antonio Rodríguez.


Robert Weber Federico (Executive Producer, Repertorio Español), Cast of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Marco Antonio Rodríguez (Director and Playwright) & Rafael Sánchez (Executive Artistic Director, Repertorio Español).


Repertorio Español’s reopening was honored with the presence of many supporters, Board members, good friends, and lead sponsors including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Luis MirandaJulio Peterson (Vice President of Real Estate at The Shubert Organization), and representatives from Lucille Lortel and Howard Gilman foundations, and the evening’s reopening sponsors, Bank of America and Telemundo.

This historic reopening was made possible with the support of Bank of America that will match any contribution over $25. Bank of America will donate an equal amount up to $100,000, thereby doubling the impact of any contribution made to Repertorio. This match signifies a vital challenge that will allow the renowned theatre company to continue supporting the innovative work of Latinx artists in the community and celebrating their voices and culture now by being online also with the entire world.

Emphatically, Repertorio Español wants to express its sincerest gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer for his steadfast support and advocacy on behalf of the performing arts venues that were closed during the pandemic crisis. His tenacity, leadership, and commitment towards the COVID19 Relief Bill and the American Rescue Plan, made it possible for Repertorio to continue to exist and finally to be reborn.  ¡Gracias Senator Schumer!


 

Our community has been terribly impacted by the pandemic and the temporary closure of theaters, but it is time to meet again. To help us bring back all the productions you love, for any contribution you make over $25, Bank of America will match an equal amount to Repertorio up to $100,000. Help us get back on our feet!

 

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REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL ANNOUNCES THE WINNERS OF THE 2021 MIRANDA FAMILY VOCES LATINX NATIONAL PLAYWRITING COMPETITION

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FROM THE FOUNTAIN by Joel Pérez for first place, in the second edition of the competition. The playwright will receive a cash award of $3,000.

Repertorio Español announces the winners of The 2021 Miranda Family Voces Latinx Playwriting Competition, an initiative to develop and promote Latinx plays that resonate with and accurately depict the Latinx experience. The competition is inclusive of all playwrights who are at least 18 years of age and residents of the United States or Puerto Rico.

“I am so humbled by and grateful for this incredible honor. The Voces Latinx National Playwriting Competition showcases so many thought-provoking, exciting, and vital pieces of theater that should be part of the canon of American theater. I urge theaters across the country to develop and program the plays by the artists featured in this competition and open your doors and stages to a diverse range of Latinx voices. We are here. We have been here. We are American theater.” – Joel Pérez

The 2022 Miranda Family Voces Latinx National Playwriting Competition begins now! Submissions are due by Tuesday, February 1, 2022. A readings series will be held in June of the top 5 plays. For info please visit www.repertorio.nyc/voceslatinx or email aav@repertorio.org.

WINNERS OF THE 2021 MIRANDA FAMILY VOCES LATINX NATIONAL PLAYWRITING COMPETITION

1st Place: (Award: $3,000)
FROM THE FOUNTAIN by Joel Pérez from New York, NY.

Playwright Bio: Joel Pérez is an award-winning actor and writer living in NYC. His theater work includes Fun Home (Broadway), Kiss My Aztec! (La Jolla Playhouse) and Sweet Charity (New Group; Lortel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical). TV work includes Jesus Christ Superstar Live! (NBC), Person of Interest (CBS) and Odd Mom Out (Bravo). He writes and performs with the musical theater sketch show SHIZ. He recently wrote and performed Black Beans Project at The Huntington Theatre and his new solo musical comedy Playing With Myself at Ars Nova. His play, The Church of the Holy Glory, premiered at Ars Nova ANTFest 2018. He is a 2021 Time Warner 150 Artist Grant recipient for his original comedy pilot You’re Tired. You’re Poor. He is a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Playwriting from NYFA. Follow him at @misterjoelperez and visit www.joelperez.com

About FROM THE FOUNTAIN: After an extended self-imposed exile, Fernando returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his Pentecostal pastor father, Ernesto, at the church he grew up in. Memories flood Fernando’s mind as he attempts to sort through the wreckage of his fractured family. From the Fountain is a play about faith, home, and what we are willing to sacrifice for our family.

2nd Place: (Award: $2,000)
MACHINE LEARNING by Francisco Mendoza from Brooklyn, NY.

Playwright Bio: Francisco Mendoza is an Argentinian writer currently living in Brooklyn, NY, after spending several years in Brazil. His work has been developed or presented at The New Group, the MacDowell Colony, and Northern Stage, among others. His scripts include stage plays Machine Learning (The Lark’s Playwrights Week, Yale Drama Series Runner Up, San Diego Rep Latinx Festival), Tooth For Tooth (Finalist, Sundance Theater Lab; Finalist, Princess Grace Fellowship), and Patriarch (Great Plains Theatre Conference). notrealmendoza.com

About MACHINE LEARNING: When his estranged, alcoholic father is diagnosed with liver cancer, computer scientist Jorge dreams up a nursing app to manage the disease in his stead. As the machine’s capabilities grow, however, the possibility of leaving it in charge of the treatment becomes more real, forcing Jorge to reckon with his responsibilities as a son—and as a creator.

3rd Place: (Award: $1,000)
AGOSTO INFINITO by Antonio García del Toro from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

 

Playwright Bio: Antonio García Del Toro is a Puerto Rican playwright, theatre director, and professor of language and literature, backed by a vast trajectory in professional theatre from a young age. His works in literary criticism and creation have been published in numerous specialized magazines. For more than fifty years he has been an active participant in the world of professional Puerto Rican theatre, most recognized for his direction and dramaturgy. Dr. García del Toro, recently retired from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico where he taught courses in Puerto Rican Language and Literature, Italian, and Theatre for more than thirty years.

About AGOSTO INFINITO: Following the death of his young son, a professor and his wife flee from a country ruled by one of the most fearsome dictators of the Twentieth Century. Under a new assumed identity, the couple open and operate a bookstore in a small city and spend the following years under the fear of their past catching up to them. The arrival of a young psychologist disrupts their present forcing them to relive the past and helping them make way towards a better future.

Runners Ups (Award: $500)

THE EL PASO PLAY: 23 ACTS OF KINDNESS by Gregory Ramos from Rancho Mirage, CA



Playwright Bio: Professor and Chair of the University of Redlands Department of Theatre Arts where he teaches directing, playwriting, and diversity in the U.S. American Theater. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, began his professional career as a dancer, and has taught at the University of Texas at El Paso and The University of Vermont. MFA, Playwriting UCLA. He’s a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and The Lincoln Center Director’s lab.

About The El Paso Play: 23 Acts of Kindness: Inspired by interviews with community members in El Paso, Texas in the months after the mass shooting at Walmart in 2019 and told through 12 characters’ stories and impressions of the event, the play explores immigration, gun control, and the rise of white supremacy in America. Part docudrama, part theatrical montage, and part prayer for the future of America, a community reaches toward our shared humanity and collective healing.

PRINCESS CLARA OF LOISADA by Matt Barbot from Brooklyn, NY



Playwright Bio: Matt Barbot is a writer from Brooklyn, NY. His play El Coquí Espectacular and The Bottle of Doom received its world premiere at Two River Theater in January of 2018. The Venetians was a winner of Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2019 Columbia@Roundabout New Play Series. Matt received his MFA from Columbia University and was recently a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow and a member of The Civilians’ R&D Group.

About PRINCESS CLARA OF LOISADA: With Mamá long gone and Papá in a trance, Lower East Side middle schooler Clara and her older brother José try to distract themselves from their bleak reality with fanciful stories. When strange events make the siblings realize these stories might be true – that, in fact, they may be making them come true – Clara is faced with a choice, and José will fight a magical battle for his sister’s destiny.

GENERAL INFORMATION
By phone: 1-212.225.9999 | Online: repertorio.nyc

ABOUT THE MIRANDA FAMILY FUND
For over 40 years, The Miranda Family has championed community activism. They have created and supported institutions that have served underserved populations throughout New York City, across the country, and in Puerto Rico. They continue to foster the family’s commitment to advocacy for education, the arts, and social justice – along with a sustained focus on relief and rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria.

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It is with deep sorrow that Repertorio EspañoI announces the passing of one of its most memorable actors, René Sánchez

René Sánchez, featured actor of Repertorio Español from 1975 until 2011, passed away at the age of 93 after a long illness on Tuesday, September 7th in New York City.

rené sanchez

Born in Havana, Cuba, son of a Cuban mother and Dominican father. In 1947, he abandoned his undergraduate studies to join the Municipal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating in 1950. He began his professional career with directors Francisco Morín and Andrés Castro, who invited him to a three-month course on the Stanislavski method. Later, he joined the company Las Mascaras, becoming their leading actor. His first important role was Victor in Federico García Lorca’s “Yerma” opposite Antonia Rey. He toured the Cuba and participated in plays such as “Cándida,” “Espectros,” “El Tio Vania,” “Cocktail Party,” “Las Brujas de Salem,” “Sin Salida,” “La Oscuridad al Final de las Escaleras” y “Mesas Separadas.” In 1958, he worked on the television show “Escenario Cuatro,” directed by Humberto Arenal, for which he won the prize for Best Actor in 1963, and in film, he appeared as the Priest in Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s “The Twelve Chairs” before leaving Cuba.  He moved to Spain and joined the Lope de Vega Company where he toured together with actors such as Milagros Leal, Berta Riaza, Mary Carrillo, Gabriel Llopart y Antonio Medina. In Barcelona he played the role of Ruben Darío in “Luces de Bohemia,” directed by José Tamayo.

Rene Sanchez

He worked for Radio Madrid, Radio Nacional and Nuevo Acento. He then moved to New York where he joined Repertorio Español and has spent the last 30 years of his career appearing in plays by Calderón de la Barca, Tirso de Molina, Lope de Vega, Federico García Lorca, Emilio Carballido, Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Carmen Rivera, mostly under the direction of René Buch and opposite the leading actress, Ofelia González. He has also worked with directors such as Antunes Filho and Jorge Alí Triana. Whether as King Basilio in the dramatic “Life is a Dream” or the Pharaoh in the zarzuela/operetta “The Pharaoh’s Court, René exuded a presence that D.J.R. Bruckner in The New York Times called “Commanding.”  He has won many awards including Lifetime Achievement from HOLA and ACE as well as recognitions from the Classic Spanish Theater Festival in El Paso, Texas.

CronicaReneSanchez

A memorial service will be announced as soon as permitted. The family and friends of René would like to extend their sincerest gratitude to all the healthcare workers during these difficult times.

La Candida Erendida - Ofelia Gonzalez y rene Sanchez

 

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CASTING CALL: LA BREVE Y MARAVILLOSA VIDA DE OSCAR WAO

Facebook Event Oscar Wao

CASTING CALL

Role: OSCAR WAO
(Lead): Male, 21-30
Native Spanish speaker.
Ethnicity: Afro-Latino

Can play eighteen to twenty-three. Nerdy.

Production Description:
Casting ”La Breve Y Maravillosa Vida De Oscar Wao.” Synopsis: The long-awaited first novel from Junot Díaz expands the short story about Oscar Wao— a lonely, Dominican sci-fi nerd in Paterson, New Jersey, who falls hopelessly in love with women who never reciprocate his feelings—originally published in the New Yorker seven years previously. Based on Junot Diaz’s novel. Written and directed by Marco Antonio Rodríguez.

Rehearsal and Production Dates: Sept./Dec. 2021 more dates to be added for 2022.

How to apply:
Contact Fernando Then, Production Manager – fthen@repertorio.org
Subject: Casting Call – Oscar Wao – [First and Last Name]
Most include resume, headshot/photo, and video reel. Legally work in the United States.

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REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL ANNOUNCES DATES FOR REOPENING

Repertorio Español has announced the dates for their official reopening. Performances start on the 6th of October.


LA BREVE Y MARAVILLOSA VIDA DE OSCAR WAO
(The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
Based on Junot Díaz’s novel.
Adapted & Directed by Marco Antonio Rodríguez

“A shrewd exploration of male mores under often hilarious Ping-Pong dialogue”. — The New York Times

“Rodríguez skillfully compresses time, and hones the events of Oscar’s life to bring us a humorous and poignant performance”. — Berkshire Fine Arts

“The performers are uniformly excellent”. — Theatermania

“I’d recommend Repertorio Español’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao to anyone, whether or not they speak Spanish”. — Theatre Is Easy

VIEW DATES


EDUARDO DE FILIPPO’S
FILOMENA MARTURANO: UN MATRIMONIO A LA CARIBEÑA
(Marriage Caribbean Style)
Directed by Leyma López

“You get binge-worthy drama in tasty 30-minute acts, watching flesh and blood actors at the top of their game”. — The New York Times

“This play is outlandishly funny and thrives off of its ability to plot twists in the heart of its character”. — Diandra Reviews It All

VIEW DATES


CELEBRATING 25 YEARS IN REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL
LA GRINGA
By Carmen Rivera
Directed by René Buch

“Carmen Rivera’s iconic play that captures the spirit of the Puerto Rican experience.” — The New York Times

“‘La gringa’ is the story of a young woman from New York who goes to Puerto Rico in search of her extended family. When she finds them, the complicated misperceptions that develop on all sides unfold in comic dialogue that arouses constant shouts of laughter and bursts of applause.” — The New York Times

VIEW DATES


FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA’S
LA CASA DE BERNARDA ALBA
(The House of Bernarda Alba)

Directed by René Buch
“Hatred, jealousy and despair come to life, almost as characters in their own right, in the Repertorio Español’s Spanish-language production of ‘La casa de Bernarda Alba’. García Lorca’s grim satisfaction in exposing the pretensions, self-deceits, and destructive willfulness of Bernarda Alba and her five daughters in a world of women who are all victims is almost palpable.” — The New York Times

“Strongly built. This is fine, beautifully sustained production.” — The Village Voice

VIEW DATES


MIGUEL DE CERVANTES SAAVEDRA’S
EL QUIJOTE
Adapted by Santiago García
Directed by Jorge Alí Triana

“‘El Quijote’ stresses the absurdities of Don Quijote’s quest, as he attempts to right wrongs and rescue damsels in distress… Don Quijote and Sancho stumble through a series of adventures (or misadventures, as Sancho calls them). Company members never falter, never miss a step. At the same time, the director’s creativity is unbounded.” — Backstage

“The real thing, much closer to Cervantes’ original satirical intent…the director’s creativity is unbounded…not a stodgy classic, but a lusty, delicious version – a veritable three-ring circus.” — Backstage

VIEW DATES


BASED ON JULIA ÁLVAREZ’S NOVEL
EN EL TIEMPO DE LAS MARIPOSAS
(In the Time of the Butterflies)
By Caridad Svich
Directed by José Zayas

“The outrage and sorrow that greeted the murder of the three elegant and revolutionary Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic during the homicidal dictatorship of General Rafael Trujillo have never really ended. These emotions are evident… and is the subject of ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’… it largely does justice to this story of injustice.” — Backstage

“Zayas’ inventive production, in which the use of video projections and animation help create a poetic language of stagecraft. The seven-member cast is effective in reminding us that, in past eras too, despots only seemed invincible.” — Backstage

VIEW DATES


SAULO GARCÍA’S
QUINCEAÑERA
Directed by Valentín Álvarez Campos

“QUINCEAÑERA” is a celebration of 15 consecutive years of Saulo García’s comedy on Repertorio’s stage and a compilation of his “Greatest Hits”.

“García has a good-humored stage presence that’s irresistible…” — The Washington Post

VIEW DATES

TICKETS AND GENERAL INFORMATION
By phone: 1-212.225.9999 | Online: repertorio.nyc
In person: 138 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016
(Between Lexington and Third Avenues. Subway: # 6, N or R to 27th Street)

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REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL ANNOUNCES THE FINALISTS OF THE 2021 MIRANDA FAMILY VOCES LATINX NATIONAL PLAYWRITING COMPETITION

VOCES_LATINX_2021_Final

Repertorio Español announces the finalists of The 2021 Miranda Family Voces Latinx Playwriting Competition, an initiative to develop and promote Latinx plays that resonate with and accurately depict the Latinx experience by playwrights of all racial and national backgrounds.

After receiving over one hundred scripts written by emerging playwrights across the United States and Puerto Rico, the company has selected five finalists that will have readings of their plays streamed. All readings will premiere on the Company’s Facebook and YouTube sites which can be found using the social handle repertorionyc.

The winners will be announced in the Fall and the prizes will consist of:

  • Grand Prize Winner: $3,000
  • 2nd Place: $2,000
  • 3rd Place: $1,000
  • 2 Runners up $500

ABOUT THE MIRANDA FAMILY FUND
For over 40 years, The Miranda Family has championed community activism. They have created and supported institutions that have served underserved populations throughout New York City, across the country, and in Puerto Rico. They continue to foster the family’s commitment to advocacy for education, the arts, and social justice – along with a sustained focus on relief and rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria.

THE 2021 MIRANDA FAMILY VOCES LATINX NATIONAL PLAYWRITING COMPETITION FINALISTS:

VOCES_LATINX_2021_Agosto_Infinito

AGOSTO INFINITO by Antonio García del Toro
Directed by Leyma López
Reading: Saturday, June 26th, 6 pm
Presented in Spanish

Playwright Bio: Antonio García Del Toro, is a Puerto Rican playwright, theatre director, and professor of language and literature, backed by a vast trajectory in professional theatre from a young age. His works in literary criticism and creation have been published in numerous specialized magazines. For more than fifty years he has been an active participant in the world of professional Puerto Rican theatre, most recognized for his excellent execution as a director and his abundant contributions in dramaturgy. Dr. García del Toro, recently retired from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico where he taught courses in Puerto Rican Language and Literature, Italian, and Theatre for more than thirty years.

About AGOSTO INFINITO: Following the death of his young son, a professor and his wife flee from a country ruled by one of the most fearsome dictators of the Twentieth Century. Under a new assumed identity, the couple open and operate a bookstore in a small city and spend the following years under the fear of their past catching up to them. The arrival of a young psychologist disrupts their present forcing them to relive the past and helping them make way towards a better future.


 

VOCES_LATINX_2021_From_The_Fountain

FROM THE FOUNTAIN by Joel Pérez
Directed by Carlos Armesto
Reading: Sunday, June 27th, 6 pm
Presented in English

Playwright Bio: Joel Pérez is an award-winning actor and writer living in NYC. His theater work includes Fun Home (Broadway), Kiss My Aztec! (La Jolla Playhouse) and Sweet Charity (New Group; Lortel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical). TV work includes Jesus Christ Superstar Live! (NBC), Person of Interest (CBS) and Odd Mom Out (Bravo). He writes and performs with the musical theater sketch show SHIZ. He recently wrote and performed Black Beans Project at The Huntington Theatre. His new solo musical comedy Playing With Myself premieres at Ars Nova on June 28th. His play, The Church of the Holy Glory, premiered at Ars Nova ANTFest 2018. He is a 2021 TimeWarner 150 Artist Grant recipient for his original comedy pilot You’re Tired. You’re Poor. He is a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Playwriting from NYFA. Follow him at @misterjoelperez and visit www.joelperez.com

About FROM THE FOUNTAIN: After an extended self-imposed exile, Fernando returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his Pentecostal pastor father, Ernesto, at the church he grew up in. Memories flood Fernando’s mind as he attempts to sort through the wreckage of his fractured family. From the Fountain is a play about faith, home, and what we are willing to sacrifice for our family.


 

VOCES_LATINX_2021_Machine_Learning

MACHINE LEARNING by Francisco Mendoza
Directed by Andrés López-Alicea
Reading: Monday, June 28th, 6 pm
Presented in English

Playwright Bio: Francisco Mendoza is an Argentinian writer currently living in Brooklyn, NY after spending several years in Brazil. His work has been developed or presented at The New Group, the MacDowell Colony, and Northern Stage, among others. His scripts include stage plays Machine Learning (The Lark’s Playwrights Week, Yale Drama Series Runner Up, San Diego Rep Latinx Festival), Tooth For Tooth (Finalist, Sundance Theater Lab; Finalist, Princess Grace Fellowship), and Patriarch (Great Plains Theatre Conference). notrealmendoza.com

About MACHINE LEARNING: When his estranged, alcoholic father is diagnosed with liver cancer, computer scientist Jorge dreams up a nursing app to manage the disease in his stead. As the machine’s capabilities grow, however, the possibility of leaving it in charge of the treatment becomes more real, forcing Jorge to reckon with his responsibilities as a son—and as a creator.


 

VOCES_LATINX_2021_The_el_Paso_Play

THE EL PASO PLAY: 23 ACTS OF KINDNESS by Gregory Ramos
Directed by Jerry Ruíz
Reading: Tuesday, June 29th, 6 pm
Presented in English

Playwright Bio: Professor and Chair of the University of Redlands Department of Theatre Arts where he teaches directing, playwriting and diversity in the U.S. American Theater.  He was born and raised in Los Angeles, began his professional career as a dancer and has taught at the University of Texas at El Paso and The University of Vermont. MFA, Playwriting UCLA. He’s a member of Actor’s Equity Association and The Lincoln Center Director’s lab.

About The El Paso Play: 23 Acts of Kindness: Inspired by interviews with community members in El Paso, Texas in the months after the mass shooting at Walmart in 2019. Told through 12 characters’ stories and impressions of the event, the play explores immigration, gun control, and the rise of white supremacy in America. Part docudrama, part theatrical montage, and part prayer for the future of America, a community reaches toward our shared humanity and collective healing.


 

VOCES_LATINX_2021_Princess_Clara

PRINCESS CLARA OF LOISADA by Matt Barbot
Directed By Victoria Pérez
Reading: Wednesday, June 30th, 6 pm
Presented in English

Playwright Bio: Matt Barbot is a writer from Brooklyn, NY. His play El Coquí Espectacular and The Bottle of Doom received its world premiere at Two River Theater in January of 2018. The Venetians was a winner of Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2019 Columbia@Roundabout New Play Series. Matt received his MFA from Columbia University, and was recently a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow and a member of The Civilians’ R&D Group.

About PRINCESS CLARA OF LOISADA: With Mamá long gone and Papá in a trance, Lower East Side middle schooler Clara and her older brother José try to distract themselves from their bleak reality with fanciful stories. When strange events make the siblings realize these stories might be true – that, in fact, they may be making them come true – Clara is faced with a choice, and José will fight a magical battle for his sister’s destiny.

GENERAL INFORMATION
By phone: 1-212.225.9999 | Online: repertorio.nyc

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Dos Gringas Hablando: Chatting with playwright Carmen Rivera on the 25th Anniversary of her play LA GRINGA.

Interview Screencap
By Ana Zambrana in colaboration with BIPOC Critics Lab.

From the moment I pressed play to start La Gringa, until lights out, my mother and I had tears running down our cheeks. Mind you I am twenty-three years old and have seen my mother cry maybe two times in my entire life. But we are in a time of isolation, to where we haven’t been able to see my ninety-two-year-old grandma, who lives back on the island. So to be able to have two hours of what felt like being reunited with our family, was a gift. I have to thank Carmen Rivera, the playwright of this piece. La Gringa is celebrating its Twenty-Fifth year at the Repertorio Español. I was able to have a Zoom room with Carmen to talk, not only about her play, but the moment we are experiencing as Latinas today. Rivera is no stranger to Repertorio, not only because it is home to La Gringa, but she tells me that Repertorio is the Theatre she used to go to on high school field trips.

I remember going to Repertorio when I was 15-16, we would go for Spanish club! After every show, Federico would do Q&A’s and I remember him saying “if you ever write a play, we are here”. So when Repertorio was doing their reading series in 1994 and my play was selected, I was just shocked. It’s surreal, twenty-five years later. I’m so grateful. For this to happen with La Gringa it’s, wow. I feel so grateful for René Buch, Gilberto Zaldívar, and Robert Federico. When you write a play you hope it gets done of course, but to say it’s been performed every season at Repertorio for twenty-five years, it’s an honor.

You know there’s a reason why this needs to be in every single season. I find it as such an identifier for people my age, who are struggling with identity. Especially now that there are more people who are moving here from La Isla.

People are always telling us who we are, what we are if we’re significant or not significant enough. They are always determining and passing judgment on our culture. At the end of the day, I’m saying who I am and who I want to be. It’s in my heart and you can’t take it away from me. I remember once I had an interview in Spanish on a Dominican Republic TV show. You had to have earphones on and I heard myself. For a second I thought to myself “oh my God, I have such a thick accent in Spanish”, I then apologize for my accent, in my head. Then for whatever reason, I don’t know how this happened, I said to the interviewer “I apologize for mi acento de diaspora”. That moment was a revelation for me, I can’t be who I am not. I’m born and raised in New York, I’m a Puerto Rican in the diaspora. There’s nothing else, I can’t be who I am not.

You’re right, regardless, people are going to like our accent or they won’t? There is nothing we can do about it. Except how we deal with it.

Speaking a second language is such a powerful thing! So when people come with negativity, at worst, I’ll say “gosh I can’t deal with your negative energy right now”.

Absolutely, just moving on with my energy. I’m very much an “energy” person and yogi. I felt SO seen when in your play we get our Gringa doing Yoga con su Familia, and doing all these things that my Familia calls me crazy for. One moment especially was the argument of not being Puerto Rican enough, because I have gotten in pretty turbulent conversations with my family back home on whether or not I am indeed Boricua. I had to know whether or not those moments were derived from actual experiences? 

Hahaha yeah in another lifetime. This happened when I was 21, I worked for an insurance company and they had an office in Hato Rey. So I called them and said, “ hi I was just wondering if I could stop by the office and talk to you guys about perhaps relocating”. Then they take me on a tour of the office and they bring me into the conference room. And I went “I don’t mind starting from the bottom again, I don’t mind any of that” and they go, “oh, no, you’ll never get hired. You’re not a Puerto Rican national. We’ll never hire you. Nobody will respect you because you’re not Puerto Rican”…..I remember my mother, who is just awesome, was waiting for me in the car and she goes “What? That’s some bullshit”. I was shocked. Then when we go back home, to my family in PR, I told them what happened and they said “of course not, you’re not Puerto Rican, you’re American”. Wow, you know, even my own family. Now, our discussion didn’t get to the heights of the play, but it still happened. That and then the issue of the house I created as a metaphor for the island.

Yeah, it is shocking! The people you innately feel connected to, reject you in a way. Then to feel it come from your own family, its sense of displacement. But when we are over here in the states, where do we fit? We aren’t wanted there, but then over here we have to work twice as hard to even be considered? As if we have to prove ourselves. In college, I felt this need to constantly be involved, doing double the amount of programs/positions, not even to be above, but just to be at the bar. 

Yes! There is already an assumption that we cannot do the job. So now, we have to get to the point where they actually think “hmmm..maybe they can do this job”. Then from there, we have to build upon that, and it’s not fair. But that’s just that’s the world we live in. I think the BIPOC Community has always known that. Except I think Trump, Co-vid, and Black Lives Matter really brought out the inequities that we’ve always known.

 Honestly, I didn’t even really come to notice these structures/barriers that were in place until maybe college. That is where this real sense of imposter syndrome set in. Especially when I was starting to be put in positions of leadership. I remember once I was assistant directing a show, and it took me about three weeks to gain the same amount of agency one of the male actors had from the beginning. 

OH, yes that feeling is exhausting! It became a part of our journey, the journey of trying to find my place in the business and whether or not the powers that be want you. There are so many mind games that are being played and you know It’s like a ghost. How do I address it? I don’t have the answer other than I’m going to claim my space and you’re not going to take my agency away from me. I’m not going to let you in. I’m living my dream and if you’re not down with it, that’s fine then Godspeed. It’s the same as when I wanted to be a playwright. I wanted to be a playwright, so I became a playwright. I actually told my husband, if I die tonight, they’re going to say Carmen “The playwright” died. Then my husband, who actually is the one who told me to develop La Gringa into a full-length play, says “you know that’s pretty damn good”.

That’s absolutely pretty damn good. There are a slim amount of people that can say that they made their dream their reality. Which I have to say, when I watched your play, with my mother, that really made me emotional. Knowing that a “Gringa” wrote the longest running Spanish Language off-Broadway play. It made me proud to call myself a Gringa, which is a word that’s meaning to me definitely has been a mix of good and bad.

I believe it’s the intention behind the word, that is what makes it good or not good. If we joke about it, I don’t care. I think it’s completely fine. But if somebody says it in a mean way, that I don’t like. I have no problem joking about it because we’re living in a diaspora here. We’re different you know. So what we are getting is an evolutionary word that encompasses how our culture adapted, you know, so I don’t feel negative about it.

It’s definitely about the intention, as you’ve shown in your play there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We need to celebrate our diasporic identity, there is a reclaiming of the word. Now, I call myself a Gringa when I mess up a word or when I add my superfood creamer to my Café Lareño. Honestly, all my foods end up being a little Gringa, I’ll add Hemp seeds to my Mofongo.

You know what for me it wasn’t with coffee, but instead, I would bring my packets of Green and Tumeric tea to Puerto Rico! I will say though, when I was a little I started going to Puerto Rico. My grandmother would make me Café Con Leche and it was the best. Now, If I drink coffee it’ll only be in Puerto Rico and it’ll be the way that it’s made there. Oh My God, with my soda crackers and butter…

Gringa recipe Eng. Final Draft.

Oh my god yes…then you dip the galleta in the coffee, uhh so good! It always tastes better when you are in Puerto Rico too. Anytime I see something or someone from Puerto Rico I automatically feel connected. It’s like a light switch. I remember when I found out Gina Rodriguez was Puerto Rican I immediately became obsessed, she actually became a really big inspiration to me. Her performance in Jane The Virgin was the first time I saw myself on screen. 

I felt the same way with Chita Rivera, well partially because of my name and I also used to have curly hair. But she was Puerto Rican and I thought she was amazing. She has this strength and this warrior spirit. She was and still is a badass. I also connected with, and this isn’t going to make any sense at first, Camus’ book The Stranger and said “that is me”. I still can’t explain it to this day. I can’t tell you why, other than I know what it’s like to be out of place. I know what it’s like to not fit in anywhere. I’m still a person that doesn’t fit in anywhere. Just like the line I wrote in La Gringa “I’m nobody from everywhere”.

I think that’s such a perfect example of the mezcla it means to be Gringa. Where you bring together two things that seem so different, but they come together to make you. That’s beautiful, thank you for giving us Gringas something that is ours. Is there something you like to say specifically about the 25th anniversary? 

I just really want to thank René Buch’s directing. He was the one that made the version we see. No house, just the wooden panels, because he said: “the story is a metaphor”. That completely elevated the script, it made it universal. René’s direction informed my aesthetic as a playwright for the rest of my life. We are here speaking because of what René did to the play. We are here because Repertorio said yes and Robert Federico continues to say yes.

For tickets and information visit: repertorio.nyc

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