About Pregones Theater
Pregones Theater’s ensemble is a multigenerational network of Puerto Rican/Latino actors, dancers, musicians, writers, directors, and designers. Working in Spanish and in English, the ensemble’s original repertory now features 80 plays and musicals of dynamic visual and rhythmic character. Pregones builds audience engagement around these works, both as part of a year-round performing arts season in The Bronx, and via local, national, and international touring.
The ensemble’s methodology builds on the practice of Caribbean and Latin American colectivos, nuevo teatro, and popular theater. Typically, a Pregones production will employ live music, choreographed movement, and texts adapted from literary and extra-literary sources. Subject matter frequently touches upon the themes of Latino history, migration, and identity, all broadly defined from a current perspective and contemporary aesthetic. Blossoming of an idea into a new work by Pregones starts with active research conducted with fellow artists from multiple disciplines, other cultural practitioners, scholars, and archival repositories like Center for Puerto Rican Studies and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
The ensemble will dig for photos, letters, songs, periodicals, ephemera, and anything else that will enrich its understanding and creative palette. Artists also reach out to members of the community for additional anecdotes, materials, and input on their findings. The play script, music, and design of a new production evolve over multiple years following this initial investment.
Pregones succeeds in building its repertory —and the audience for it— with this resource-rich, additive methodology. Disseminated through teaching and mentoring at community, university, and professional levels, this practice also sustains many creative collaborations, including our work with Roadside Theater, and with partner companies of the Worldwide Theater Carrousel in South Africa, Peru, Belgium, Slovakia, Holland, and Canada.
In 2013, Pregones announced its merger with the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (aka PRTT) in Manhattan, the pioneering company founded by Latina stage and film icon Miriam Colón. Moving forward, Pregones/PRTT programs an inter-borough, two-stage season in NYC.
About Roadside Theater
Roadside Theater’s ensemble, whose members all have deep roots in Appalachia, has created or co-created 60 new plays. The plays’ form and content is readily identifiable and simultaneously marked by a sense of continuous experimentation as the theater’s artists reach to represent and understand their people and history. Together, the plays constitute the only indigenous body of drama about, and from, Appalachia.
First are the regional plays inspired by oral histories, traditional ballads and archetypal stories, personal memory, and the forms of indigenous church services — all re-imagined for the stage and for the here and now. Other plays result from long-standing artistic exchanges with national theater ensembles. These intercultural plays, which are sometimes bi-lingual, link the Appalachian story to the stories of others struggling for equal opportunity and a respectable place in the nation’s history. By co creating such new stories within particular cultural aesthetics, the ensemble aspires to be part of the new stories the country is telling itself.
The majority of Roadside’s audience, whether at home or on national tour, is economically poor and working and middle class, and the ensemble members, themselves, reflect this audience. To hold up to view popular theater history and its current practice, the company develops and teaches college courses focused on ensemble creation and presentation. Always included is the theory and practice of the theater’s tested community cultural development residency model that builds and diversifies performing arts audiences. The model has resulted in the establishment of new theaters —like Idiwanan An Chawe, the first Zuni language theater— dedicated to creating new American plays fully representative of the nation’s cultural diversity. Toward the ideal of a vigorous popular theater, Roadside is a founding member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, Alternate ROOTS, and Community Arts Network (CAN).