Roundabout Announces The Refocus Project Second Season

The plays have been selected in partnership with Pregones/PRTT and will be workshopped and performed in a reading series this summer.

By: Apr. 18, 2022
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Roundabout Announces The Refocus Project Second Season

Roundabout Theatre Company has announced the second season of The Refocus Project, its multiyear project to elevate and restore marginalized plays to the American canon. This year's series of readings, for which Roundabout is partnering with Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (PRTT), will feature Latinx playwrights: René Marqués, Fausto Avendaño, María Irene Fornés, Rosalba Rolón and Desmar Guevara.

The plays have been selected in partnership with Pregones/PRTT and will be workshopped and performed in a reading series this summer in Roundabout and Pregones/PRTT spaces, featuring on stage and behindthe-scenes artists from both theaters. In the fall, a streamed version of three readings will be available online featuring both English and Spanish.

The play streaming series is free of charge. All suggested donations will directly support Pregones/PRTT and their ongoing work championing the rich Latinx cultural legacy of theatre.

The Refocus Project also features a robust selection of materials, available to industry professionals and the public, including an online resource library and community and education events.

The Refocus Project launched in 2021 in association with Black Theatre United, spotlighting twentiethcentury Black plays and their playwrights: Angelina Weld Grimké, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Childress and Samm-Art Williams.

"Our goal is to shift the theatrical canon by allowing theater-makers, industry leaders, and educators to see these incredible plays performed and brought back to the spotlight. We are so proud to learn, from season one, that the titles are slowly making their way into theatrical seasons and curricula across the country," said Todd Haimes, Roundabout Theatre Company Artistic Director/CEO. "Partnering with Pregones/PRTT is a perfect way to ensure that season two will be an equal success, and I am grateful to them for joining us."

"We are energized by this opportunity to expand the reach of dynamic, relevant plays that have enjoyed great success, staged by companies throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico over many decades," said Rosalba Rolón, Artistic Director of Pregones/PRTT. These works are again taking center stage for the enjoyment of artists and audiences near and far. The selected plays are only a sample of the ever abundant, imaginative, and stylistically varied output of works created by Latinx playwrights and ensembles."

THE REFOCUS PROJECT: SEASON TWO PLAYS

THE OXCART BY RENÉ MARQUÉS, DIRECTED BY CRISTINA ANGELES

If everybody thinks like you, what's gonna become of the land?"

In 1950s Puerto Rico, matriarch Doña Gabriela and her children await the fateful oxcart that will take them from their mountain home to a new life in San Juan. Young Chaguito despairs to leave behind his favorite rooster and daughter Juanita dreads saying goodbye to those she loves, while eldest son Luis dreams of limitless horizons and the mechanized industries of the future.

From the pastoral countryside, to the La Perla neighborhood of San Juan, to the Spanish District of the Bronx, this sweeping story of migration poignantly dramatizes one family's struggle to find their place and redefine their identity in an uncertain future. Originally written in Spanish by celebrated short story writer and playwright René Marqués and premiered in New York in 1953, The Oxcartlater launched the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre (PRTT) in 1967 as a touring production in translation. Marqués's epic work has long been a classic of the Puerto Rican stage.

EL CORRIDO DE CALIFORNIA BY FAUSTO AVENDAÑO (1979), DIRECTED BY GALIA BACKAL

California, 1846. Don Gerónimo Segura, a Mexican rancher and mayor of the village of Santa Bárbara, welcomes his son Rafael home after five years of military service in Mexico City. Rafael, however, comes bearing news-the United States, the neighboring country his father so deeply admires, has begun a hostile takeover of California. In the ensuing conflict, Don Gerónimo and the citizens of Santa Bárbara are forced to choose between their honor and keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

Set at the start of the Mexican American War, El Corrido de California, which translates to The Ballad of California, is a bilingual play that dramatizes this turbulent period that is rarely spoken about in American history books. Fausto Avendaño, a playwright, translator, and professor at California State University, Sacramento, was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, and spent his childhood in Los Angeles and San Diego, California. He is the author of several other works of historical fiction about early-day Californians and Mexican-Americans.

SARITA BY MARÍA IRENE FORNÉS (1984), DIRECTED BY Rebecca Aparicio

Following a betrayal by her crush Julio, 13-year-old Sarita Fernandez quickly learns how fickle love can be. Her teenage years are marked by men coming and going from her life, an early pregnancy, and a volatile love affair with Julio that continues into adulthood. Eventually, Sarita's attempts to find personal agency in these relationships manifest in brutal ways, with far-reaching consequences for herself and her loved ones.

One of prolific writer, director, and teacher María Irene Fornés's lesser-known plays, Sarita first premiered in 1984 at INTAR in New York City in a production that she directed. Though her pioneering voice has inspired and influenced many contemporary theatre artists, her works are not frequently revived onstage. In the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, "She's the most original of us all. In the work of every American playwright at the end of the 20th century, there are only two stages: before she has read María Irene Fornés and after."

HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS ON A LATIN BEAT

by Rosalba Rolón with music by Desmar Guevara, James Reese Europe, Rafael Hernández, and the Harlem Hellfighters 369th Infantry Band (2010; texts ranging 1917-1940), Directed by Rosalba Rolón.

The Harlem Hellfighters' extraordinary valor and musicianship made the 369th Infantry the most celebrated regiment of the First World War era. A motley and multicolor crew, they tumble on stage with a marvelous ruckus of ragtime jazz, military bugle calls, and Latin rhythm trailing behind them. Among them are legends James Reese Europe and Rafael Hernández-two musical giants of the 20th century-always eager to relive the adventures that brought them together in the fabled summer of 1917.

Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat is inspired by the 16 Puerto Rican musicians recruited to join the famously all-Black regiment as the U.S. prepared to enter World War I. Created by members of Pregones Theater and first produced by the company in 2010, this musical tells the story of the Harlem Hellfighters pieced together by the ghosts of Black and Puerto Rican men long gone but not forgotten.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS

Fausto Avendaño, a member of the Spanish and Portuguese faculty at California State University, Sacramento, was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, and spent his childhood in Los Angeles and San Diego, California. He holds a B.A. in Spanish from California State University, San Diego, and an M.A. in Spanish and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese from the University of Arizona. Avendaño is the author of El corrido de California and has translated several literary works from English into Spanish.

Maria Irene Fornés (1930-2018) was born in Havana, Cuba, and first came to New York City in 1945. Her first play, Tango Palace, was produced in 1963. She wrote more than three dozen works for the stage. Among her most celebrated plays are Promenade, The Successful Life of 3, Fefu and Her Friends, The Danube, Mud, The Conduct of Life, And What of the Night?, Abingdon Square, The Summer in Gossensass andOscar and Bertha. Four volumes of her plays, Promenade and Other Plays, Fornés Plays, What of the Night and Selected Plays, and Letter from Cuba and Other Plays, have been published by the Performing Arts Journal and other plays have appeared in various anthologies. Besides directing most of her own plays, she directed plays by Calderon, Ibsen, Chekhov and several contemporary authors, including Leo Garcia, Cherrie Moraga and Caridad Svich. Ms. Fornés was the recipient of eight Obie Awards, one of which was for Sustained Achievement in Theater. She re ceived a Distinguished Artists Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation grants, a Guggenheim grant, an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Literary Award, a New York State Governor's Arts Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She was also a TCG/PEW Artist-inResidence at Women's Project & Productions. Ms. Fornés conducted playwriting workshops in theaters and universities in the United States and abroad. From 1973-79, she was the managing director of the New York Theatre Strategy. From 1981-1992, she was Director of the INTAR (International Arts Relations) Hispanic Playwrights-inResidence Laboratory, a national program to stimulate and develop writing abilities of Hispanic playwrights. Her students have won Obie Awards, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Pulitzer Prize. Ms. Fornés taught at some of America's most prestigious universities, including Yale, Princeton, Brown, Wesleyan, and Iowa, and led workshops at leading theatres, such as the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland.

René Marqués, (born October 4, 1919, Arecibo, Puerto Rico-died March 22, 1979, San Juan), playwright, shortstory writer, critic, and Puerto Rican nationalist whose work shows deep social and artistic commitment. Marqués graduated in 1942 from the College of Agricultural Arts of Mayagüez. He studied at the University of Madrid in 1946 and later studied writing at Columbia University in New York City. His best-known play, La Carreta (1956; "The Wagon"; Eng. trans. The Oxcart), concerns a rural Puerto Rican family who immigrate to New York City in search of their fortune but fail and subsequently return to Puerto Rico, where they find it hard to adapt. In 1959 he published three plays together in the collection Teatro ("Theatre"). These were La muerte no entrará en palacio ("Death Will Not Enter the Palace"), a political allegory in which a governor betrays his youthful ideals by succumbing to foreign imperialism; Un niño azul para esa sombra ("A Blue Child for That Shadow"); and Los soles truncos("Maimed Suns"). In Los soles truncos, one of his most successful plays, Marqués re-creates the closed environment and lives of three patrician sisters unable to cope with the onslaught of modernization. In most of his plays, Marqués advocates the development of a sense of national identity; an acceptance of foreign values leads only to alienation. This theme is expressed in the short-story collectionsOtro día nuestro (1955; "Another of Our Days"), En una ciudad llamada San Juan (1960; "In a City Called San Juan"), and Inmersos en el silencio (1976; "Immersed in Silence"), as well as in the novels La víspera del hombre (1959; "The Eve of Man"; Eng. trans. La víspera del hombre) and La mirada (1975; The Look). A collection of his essays, Ensayos(1966; some included in El puertorriqueño dócil[1967; The Docile Puerto Rican]), is also concerned with the problem of national identity in relation to the language, literature, and prevailing social conditions of Puerto Rico.

ABOUT PREGONES/PRTT

Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (aka Pregones/PRTT) is a multigenerational performing ensemble and multidiscipline arts presenteroperatingwith venuesin the SouthBronx and Manhattan'stheaterdistrict. Itsmission is to champion a Puerto Rican/Latinx cultural legacy of universal value through creation and performance of original plays and musicals, exchange and partnership with other artists of merit, and engagement of diverse audiences. Pregones Theaterwasfounded in 1979 when a group of artists led by RosalbaRolón set out to create and tournew worksin the style of Caribbean and Latin American colectivos or performing ensembles. Spurred by stage and film icon Miriam Colón, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater was founded in 1967 as one of the first bilingual theater companiesin all the U.S. Following mergerin 2014, Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater plays a decisive role in empowering diverse artists and audiencesto claim their place at the front of the American theater.

Rosalba Rolón, Artistic Director of Pregones/PRTT, is an accomplished actor, director, and dramaturg specializing in the adaptation of literary and non-literary texts for stage performance with live music. Distinctions include United States Artists Fellowship, Ford Foundation Visionaries Fellowship, Doris Duke Artist Award, and Creative Capital Award (with Paul Flores and Yosvany Terry). Rolón's numerous theater credits include We Have IRÉwith Paul Flores, Betsy!with Roadside Theater, Dancing In My Cockroach Killers with Magdalena Gómez, The Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat based on the Puerto Rican presence in the all-Black 369th Regiment of the US Army, El bolero fue mi ruina adapted from a story by Manuel Ramos Otero, Quíntuples by Luis Rafael Sánchez, and many others. She is a member of The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards Nominating Committee.

Roundabout Theatre Company celebrates the power of theatre by spotlighting classics from the past, cultivating new works of the present, and educating minds for the future. A not-for-profit company, Roundabout fulfills that mission by producing familiar and lesser-known plays and musicals; discovering and supporting talented playwrights; reducing the barriers that can inhibit theatergoing; collaborating with a diverse team of artists; building educational experiences; and archiving over five decades of production history.

Roundabout Theatre Company presents a variety of plays, musicals and new works on its five stages: Broadway's American Airlines Theatre, Studio 54 and Stephen Sondheim Theatre, and Off-Broadway's Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, which houses the Laura Pels Theatre and Black Box Theatre.



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