Updates | ¿Que Pasa? @RILA

Teatro en El Verano | Now in its 4th Season


The relationship between tradition and innovation is not always easy, but it’s in the spirited dialogue between those two values that we continually learn how to reach more people and engage audiences more deeply, while staying loyal to your established patrons. Rhode Island Latino Arts bilingual theater initiative in partnership with Trinity Repertory Theater fits squarely in the heart of that conversation between loyalty and innovation.

There have been many projects that have made Trinity Repertory Company successful over its 53-year history, but the strongest through-line is the theater’s history of innovation: its ability to step back every so often, survey the landscape and make changes that bring exciting theater not only on stage, but to Rhode Island as a whole.

Likewise, Rhode Island Latino Arts’ vision is to look for innovative ways to be change makers, to create cultural connections and build bridges between cultures. Our mission is to be inclusive of all, and if you are not a Latino by birth, we invite you to become part of our
familia. To experience our dynamic culture. To tap your feet to the salsa beat and to become a Latino en corazón – in heart.

The truth is that our
Teatro Latino initiative has generated both excitement and concern among Latinos in Rhode Island. I am not surprised, and in fact, I’m excited.

My excitement about this production comes from so many perspectives, especially after seeing how all the artists who have been invited to participate in the project have entered this relationship. First, in the second year of
Teatro en El Verano, Trinity Rep’s Associate Artistic Director, Tyler Dobrowsky, immediately gave license to a Latinx actor by inviting Marcel Mascaró to translate the text of our Master Shakespeare, thereby offering audiences a culturally different lens for experiencing Romeo and Juliet. I don't know how others feel, but to me this is a sacred task. It is one of Shakespeare’s most-famous works! Just thinking about that makes me want to stand up and cheer – ¡wepa, wao, ajúa!

The concern I once had and that is now being voiced by some members of the Latinx community about seeing Trinity Rep, the state’s leading theater company, seeking to offer Spanish-bilingual theatre is one based on history. It comes from the deluge of invitations for Latinos “to sit at the table” when traditional arts organizations led by [mainly] White men in Rhode Island start to scratch their heads as they realize that the patrons/membership numbers they once enjoyed are now dwindling. The fastest and most-strategic way to figure out how to bring in new patrons is to do a demographic scan. If done correctly, all roads point to the growth and development of the Spanish-speaking population in the past decade, with statistics that show that Latinos will be the majority by 2025.

At one of our monthly
“pláticas,” or community conversations, one individual, a Latina, asked me point blank: “Just what is Trinity Rep up to? Is this genuine, or do they want something from us?”

My response to her is that, yes, Trinity Repertory is genuinely interested and yes, they do want something from us. What I see is that they are looking for ways to push forth their mission of innovation and change, but they're doing this by asking if they may join us at our table, rather than inviting us to sit at theirs. But I also feel that as we serve them dinner at our table, we need to add — or rather,
embed — some jalapeños into their meal to keep them on their toes!

For the first time,
nosotros (we), the Latino/Latina/Latinx community of Rhode Island, have the opportunity to delve more deeply into the art of theater making and to take advantage of the state’s leading theater company. Since it was founded in 1963, Trinity Repertory Company has been one of the most respected regional theaters in the country. The theater has produced 66 world premieres, mounted national and international tours, and, through its MFA program, has trained hundreds of new actors and directors. That’s nothing to sneeze at! On the contrary, I feel that Latinos should take advantage of an opportunity to learn from Trinity Rep, its creative team of directors, staff, writers, producers and actors. We have their full attention, let’s grab it and run.

Teatro en El Verano is now in its fourth season run. Throughout this short history, Trinity’s Dobrowsky has continued to bring a new approach to the translation by allowing a trained Latinx actor/director and dramaturg to look more closely at the language of the text and to create a translation that is also a companion piece – and not a replacement – to the original text of the script. Further, he is paying attention to and fully understanding the individuals who make up the Latinx experience in Rhode Island by not simply plugging in Spanish words here and there, or adapting a version that speaks to a broader population of Latinos in other parts of the country. On the contrary, Dobrowsky has passed the baton of full creative license to the Latinos in the production, and is allowing them to speak to him and not the other way around. This year, for the second year, Tatyana-Marie Carlo, a Latina student at the Brown-MFA program, will direct, Leandro "Kufa" Castro will translate and adapt the script and Orlando Hernández will be the dramaturg.

Latinos/Latinas/Latinx have not only been invited to experience Shakespeare in their own language, but are now driving the bus and providing audiences with a new lens by which we can all appreciate Shakespeare’s masterpiece.

By commissioning a highly creative and talented group of Latino/Latina/Latinx actors to work side-by-side with non-Latinos in this bilingual production, Dobrowsky and Trinity Rep have brought a range of diverse voices and perspectives to the works of Shakespeare, and have also planted a seed which is in complete alignment with RILA’s mission-based commitment to both promoting Latino arts and culture, along with the cultural richness of our nation alike.

I am extremely proud to be a part of this innovative movement of
Teatro Latino | Rhode Island.

Marta 2019 circle-red
Marta V. Martínez is the Executive Director of Rhode Island Latino Arts, the state’s oldest leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development and cultivation of Latino arts, including the art, culture, history and heritage of Rhode Island Latinos.

Rhode Island Latino Arts in partnership with Trinity Repertory Company will launch the fourth year of Teatro en el Verano in June of 2019, featuring Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing. The production will tour throughout Providence from June 10-July 31, 2019, with stops in Central Falls, Newport, Pawtucket and Woonsocket. All performances will be free, open to the public and appropriate for all ages.

Auditions are scheduled for Monday, March 4 at Trinity Rep and Monday March 11 at La Galería @RILA in Central Falls.

For details on Teatro en El Verano and to audition, contact Orlando Hernández at orlando@rilatinoarts.org.