This year has been an exciting one for Teatro ECAS (Educational Center of Arts and Science Theater), New England’s only Spanish-language repertory company. Last spring, the Providence non-profit moved into its own space, a renovated building on Valley Street that is now being utilized as a theater, educational space, and art gallery, with a cafe in the works.
Since 1997, Teatro ECAS has provided an opportunity for Latin actors and theater-goers to experience Spanish-language performances around Rhode Island. “It began as an after-school program for students in Providence high schools, and later for Spanish-speaking students from all grades and any part of the state,” explains executive artistic director Francis Parra, a native of the Dominican Republic, who has led the organization since its founding. “We did performances for children, youth,
“This year is the biggest moment for us,” says Parra. “We never had our own space before. In April, we established a space that is open to anyone who would like to watch presentations in Spanish with English supertitles. All the plays have Latinx themes and Hispanic cultural aspects.” While the majority of a typical ECAS audience is Spanish or bilingual, staging includes using English translation supertitles.
Already underway, the 2023-24 season features exciting and diverse programming. “Plays represent what our work is all about – mixing comedy, drama, and family performances to create a space for Spanish and English speakers to enjoy the thrill of live performance,” says Parra. For the holiday season, the company is staging La Cuesta Mágica (The Magic Hill), a tale of five lost brothers who embark on an adventure in search of toys to share with children everywhere. Along the journey, they encounter Santa Claus, the Three Wise Men, and La Vieja Belén (Old Lady Bethlehem), a mythical figure in Dominican culture.
“The author is from the Dominican Republic,” says Parra. “It is a fantasy story. We have this one character who is found only in the Dominican Republic. Because of the socio-economic conditions there, many people are really disadvantaged and have never had the chance to meet Santa Claus or the Three Kings, so they had an old lady bring presents to their children. Children in the United States are learning about the culture of the Dominican Republic. There is a lot of singing and dancing; we have an intergenerational cast. Even non-Spanish speakers will enjoy it for Christmas.” December 8-9: La Cuesta Mágica. Learn more at TeatroECAS.org
by Alfrendo Sanzol
by Francis Parra
For tickets, subscriptions, and more, visit TeatroECAS.org
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