REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL

December 20, 2018 at 5:15 am

For 50 years, Repertorio Español has been New York City’s preeminent venue for Spanish and Hispanic-American theatre. Join us as we celebrate with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz.

For more information on  Repertorio Español, click here. 

Aired on December 19, 2018.

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>>> ONE OF THE OLDEST SPANISH
LANGUAGE THEATER COMPANIES IN
THE COUNTRY HOLDS A VERY SPECIAL
PLACE IN THE NEW YORK THEATER
AND LATINO COMMUNITIES.
pIT WAS ORIGINALLY FOUNDED TO
PRESENT CLASSIC SPANISH PLAYS IN
SPANISH AND TO INTRODUCE THE
BEST IN LATIN AMERICAN SPANISH
AND SPANISH THEATER TO
AUDIENCES.
IT MARKED THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
CELEBRATION WITH THE PREMIERE OF
" COMM
" COMM
"COMMISSION."
CREWS MAYBE IT -- CRUZ CAME TO
NATIONAL ATTENTION WHEN HIS PLAY
ON THE TROPICS WAS AWARDED THE
PULITZER PRIZE FOR DRAMA IN
2003, MAKING HIM THE FIRST
LATINO SO HONORED.
JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THE
CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE IS MILO
CRUZ AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
ROBERT WASHIEBER FREDERICO.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR BEING
HERE.
>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR BEING
HERE.
TELL US HOW IT GOT THE START AND
WHY.
WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL MISSION?
>> THE ORIGINAL MISSION WAS A
FUNDRAISER FOR A GROUP OF
SOCIETY LADIES WHO IN CUBA HAD
WHAT WAS CALLED LA
SADATES.
IT INCLUDED NAINA GOODWIN AND
MAX GOODMAN OF THE GOODMAN
STORE, BERGDORF GOODMAN.
SHE INVITED RENEE BOOTH TO DO A
CLASSIC PLAY IN SPANISH FOR HER
LADIES.
AND RENEE BROUGHT IN SOMEONE
WORKING AT THE GOOD FRIENDIVE
THEATER AT THAT TIME --
GREENWICH THEATER AT THAT TIME.
IT WAS A GREAT SUCCESS, AND THEY
DECIDED TO FOUND THE COMPANY.
THAT WAS 1968.
>> AND THE MISSION, THE MISSION
-- EDUCATION IS A BIG PART OF
THE MISSION.
BUT TELL US OVERALL WHAT THE
MISSION IS.
>> THE MISSION IS BASICALLY TO
DO PROFESSIONAL-GRADE THEATER IN
SPANISH, HIGHLIGHTING SPANISH
PLAYS, NOT JUST CLASSIC BUT
CONTEMPORARY, LATIN AMERICAN
WORKS, AND MORE RECENTLY IN THE
LAST 30 YEARS WORKS WRITTEN BY
LATINOS IN THE UNITED STATES
WHICH IS A GROWING BODY OF WORK.
AND SO IT'S BASICALLY THAT -- TO
DO GREAT WORKS IN SPANISH.
THE AUDIENCE FOR MOST PART IS
BILINGUAL.
BUT THEY ENJOY COMING TO THE
THEATER BECAUSE IT'S ALSO A
CULTURAL EVENT.
IT'S NOT JUST GOING TO THEATER
TO BE ENTERTAINED OR WHATEVER.
IT'S ALSO A FEELING OF THEIR
HERITAGE, THEIR ROOTS, AND SO
THEY COME TO GET THE EXTRA
SPECIAL BOOST TO THE EVENING'S
PROGRAM --
>> YOU HAVE MATINEE PERFORMANCES
FOR STUDENTS FROM HIGH SCHOOLS
--
>> FROM THE BEGINNING.
BECAUSE THE TEACHER CALLED UP IN
1968 AND SAID, IS THERE A
DISCOUNT FOR STUDENTS?
I WANT TO BRING MY CLASS TO
"PHANTOM LADY."
SO IMMEDIATELY HE WAS A GREAT
PRODUCER AND WHATEVER, AND HE
THOUGHT, THERE'S A MARKET FOR
THAT.
SO AFTER -- THEREAFTER EVERY
YEAR THERE WAS ONE OR TWO
CLASSICS SPECIFICALLY FOR THE
SCHOOLS.
WE STARTED DOING THEM AT 11:00
A.M., AND IT'S JUST BECOME --
NOW IT'S ALMOST MORE THAN
ONE-THIRD OF OUR WORK.
>> WOW.
SO WHEN DID YOU FIRST CONNECT
WITH THE SHOW?
>> IT WAS WHEN -- WHEN I WON THE
PULITZER PRIZE.
I'D SEEN WORK THERE BEFORE, BUT
THE FIRST TIME THAT MY WORK WAS
DONE WAS 2004.
>> RIGHT.
AND NOW THE -- WE KNEW OF MILO
WHEN HE WAS WRITING FOR THE
PUBLIC THEATER.
BUT I TOOK HILBERTO TO SEE "IN
THE TROPICS."
HE SAID, WE HAVE TO DO THIS PLAY
IN SPANISH.
I SAID, HILBERTO, EVERYBODY
WHO'S WANTED TO SEE THIS PLAY OF
THE AUDIENCE HAS ALREADY SEEN IT
IN ENGLISH.
AND HE SAID, NO, NO, WE'RE GOING
TO DO IT AND WE'RE GOING TO DO
IT.
AND SURE ENOUGH, WE DID IT.
AND A LOT OF POOEOPLE WHO HAD SN
THE ENGLISH PRODUCTION THOUGHT
HE HAD REWRITTEN THE PLAY.
>> YEAH.
LANGUAGE CHANGES EVERYTHING.
AND YOU TRANSLATE -- YOU
YOURSELF TRANSLATED IT.
>> I TRANSLATED IT.
>> THE FIRST TIME I HEARD IT WAS
IN SPANISH, WAS AT YOUR THEATER.
I MEAN, I HAD DONE THE
TRANSLATION OF THE PIECE, BUT I
HADN'T REALLY HEARD IT.
I WAS BUSY GOING TO OTHER
COUNTRIES, DOING ANOTHER
PRODUCTION OF THE PLAY BEING
DONE ELSEWHERE.
IN MANY PLACES ACTUALLY.
SO I HADN'T HEARD THE PLAY.
SO BY THE TIME I CAM BACK TO NEW
YORK -- I CAME BACK TO NEW YORK,
I WAS IN THE AUDIENCE AND HEARD
THE PIECE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN
SPANISH.
IT SOUNDED GLORIOUS.
>> THAT'S AMAZING.
AS YOU KNOW, MY BROTHER WAS A
PLAYWRIGHT.
HE PASSED AWAY.
AND ONE OF THE EXPERIENCES THAT
HE USED TO TALK TO ME ABOUT WAS
HOW PRAOGRESSIVE PRODUCERS AND
THEATER COMPANIES WOULD SAY WE
WANT TO SHARE THE LATINO
EXPERIENCE WITH NON-LATINO
AUDIENCES.
WRITE A PLAY FOR US.
HE WOULD, AND HE SAID MORE OFTEN
THAN NOT THEY WOULD REJECT THE
PLAY BECAUSE IT DIDN'T FIT THE
STEREOTYPES THAT THESE
PRODUCERS, AMERICAN PRODUCERS,
HAD OF THE LATINO COMMUNITY.
I WONDER IF THAT HAS BEEN YOUR
EXPERIENCE, AND TOP WHAT DEGREE
IS THIS A REAL OASIS, A GIFT TO
PLAYWRIGHTS TO BE ABLE TO AVOID
THAT STEREO SNIPE.
>> WELL, THAT'S ALWAYS BEEN --
STEREOTYPE?
>> WELL, THAT'S ALWAYS BEEN
EXPECTED OF ME TO WRITE ABOUT
THE STEREOTYPE BUT SOMETHING
I'VE VEERED AWAY FROM BECAUSE
THAT DOESN'T INTEREST ME AT ALL.
AND I -- YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN
SUCCESSFUL IN TERMS OF HAVING MY
WORK DONE AT REGIONAL THEATERS
IN THIS COUNTRY.
SO THE WORK HAS, YOU KNOW, IT
HAS -- I FEEL LIKE I'VE OPENED
DOORS TO WORK THAT IS NOT --
REPRESENTS THE STEREOTYPE OF --
>> THE STEREOTYPE AT LEAST IN
THE OLD DAYS WAS DRUG USE,
POVERTY --
>> YEAH --
>> DYSFUNCTION OVERALL.
>> NO DRUGS.
>> NO DRUGS.
VERY RUSSIAN.
ALL RIGHT.
THAT'S ALL THE TIME WE HAVE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING
US.
IT'S BEEN AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU
GUYS HERE.
>> OUR HONOR.
>> THANK YOU.
>> FOR MORE INFORMATION, YOU CAN
LOG ON TO OUR WEBSITE AT
METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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