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Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater Annouces 2022-23 Season with Plays Exploring Latiné Experience Through History — New stagings of original productions “Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat,” “Aloha Boricua,” “Quarter Rican” and “Torched!” to take place at Puerto Rican Traveling Theater on West 47th Street.

New York – August 31, 2022  –  Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater’s 2022-23 season brings to focus both the historical and personal in the Latiné and Puerto Rican experience with a selection of four original plays from its acclaimed acting and music ensemble: First up in October is Harlem Hellfighters On A Latin Beat. As the U.S. prepares to enter World War I, a group of 17 Puerto Rican musicians are recruited to join the famously all-Black 369th Infantry, bringing together iconic musical artists like James Reese Europe, Rafael Hernández, Rafael Duchesne, and others. Next in December is Aloha Boricua. Following a devastating hurricane at the turn of the 20th Century, and facing displacement, Puerto Ricans migrate to Hawai’i at the promise of employment and a new beginning. Spring main stage performances start with Gabriel Hernández’s Quarter Rican. Sitting on a bench in a modern-day playground, and joined by two musical alter egos, a first-time father philosophizes about his son’s connection to Puerto Rican identity. The season culminates in June with Torched! Alternating between present day and 1970’s NYC, Torched! is a spirited real people’s account of the infamous Bronx fires and the arson-for-profit business behind it. All productions will take place at PRTT, the company’s Off-Broadway home located on 304 West 47th Street in Manhattan. Full show descriptions are below—tickets on sale now.

Zooming in on race, displacement, and plural identities, Pregones/PRTT’s 2022-23 Mainstage centers Puerto Rican/Latiné experiences and sociocultural production over a span of 125 years. A contemporary ensemble and musical theater aesthetic brings long histories of protest and community nurturance into sharp focus, notably deploying a wide range of popular musics including salsa, funk disco, ragtime jazz, traditional Puerto Rican bomba y plena, reggaetón, and hip hop.­­

Four original illustrations by artist Jeison Rivera, frequent collaborator with Pregones/PRTT, were especially commissioned to accompany the public announcement of this year’s Mainstage.

“This Season is akin to gathering around a campfire and sharing thrilling stories that have been hidden or cast aside,” says Rosalba Rolón, Pregones/PRTT’s Artistic Director. “Truths, some of them ignored for decades, or simply not made prominent enough, are captured in these rich productions in which drama, music, and imagery light up our imaginations. Let us come together at the theater and celebrate these moving, complex, and collective tales, while we also tap our feet and have lots of fun!”

TICKETS: Starting at $25 — TICKET BUNDLES and MEMBERSHIPS available, best prices! Online at www.PregonesPRTT.org or by phone at 718-585-1202

DISCOUNTS: Members, Groups, Seniors, Students, Zip Tickets – Restrictions Apply

VISITOR SAFETY: Proof of vaccine against Covid-19, photo I.D., and face masks are required.

MORE ABOUT THE FOUR SHOWS:

Extraordinary valor and musicianship made the all-black 369th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard —aka Harlem Hellfighters— the most celebrated regiment of the First World War era. Now firmly established as a point of pride in African American history, it is less known that its ranks also included 17 illustrious musician-soldiers from Puerto Rico. In Pregones/PRTT’s stage production, the Hellfighters are a motley and multicolor crew who tumble on stage trailing a marvelous ruckus of ragtime jazz, military bugle calls, and Latin rhythms. Among them are none other than the legendary James Reese Europe and Rafael Hernández —two musical giants of the 20th Century— always eager to relive the adventures that brought them and other first-rate musicians together in the fabled summer of 1917.

Conceived and directed by U.S. Artists Award and Doris Duke Artist Award winner Rosalba Rolón, Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat is one of three original works developed by Pregones/PRTT in the 2000s to rescue important but insufficiently known episodes in Puerto Rican history.

  • ALOHA BORICUA playing December 1-18, 2022
    Director: Jorge B. Merced
    Musical Director: Desmar Guevara

The rhythms of traditional bomba y plena and urban reggaetón collide in this song-driven rendition of the historic migration of Puerto Ricans to Hawai’i. Premiered in 2007 and part of Pregones/PRTT’s “historic trilogy”, Aloha Boricuafocuses on an early instance of strategic population displacement under U.S. colonial rule: Following the devastation of Category 4 hurricane San Ciriáco, just one year after military invasion, and lured by the promise of paid employment and new beginnings, young Puerto Rican sugarcane workers and their families embark on a one-way transoceanic trip to Hawai’i. Multiple voices overlap in the musical narrative, including those of Queen Lili’uokalani; Pele, Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes; and a younger generation of streetwise poets and musicians eager to make sense of it all.

Conceived and directed by 2022 CCNY Simón Bolívar Career Achievement Award recipient Jorge B. Merced, the playscript is adapted from the short story “Vivir del cuento” and other writings by influential queer author Manuel Ramos Otero. Admired for tackling gay and feminist themes frontally, Ramos Otero’s work is famously dense with poetry and wit.

  • QUARTER RICAN playing April 20-May 7, 2023
    Author: Gabriel Hernández
    Director: Jorge B. Merced

World Premiere! A fast-talking new comedy about the ins and outs of new parenting, mixed heritage, and what makes or breaks your child’s Latinx identity. Written by actor, voiceover artist, burlesque performer, and Pregones/PRTT ensemble member Gabriel Hernández, and incubated through the company’s Step Up Artist Residency program. The story: 30-something Daniel visits the local kids’ playground —super cute baby in tow— and engages in hilarious banter and park bench philosophizing with another parent. The conversation is peppered by wild asides with Daniel’s superlative and musical alter egos, MC Plátano and the Beatboxer.

A Note from the Author and Protagonist: “In terms of the spirit of the show or why I wrote the damn thing, I’d say that the essence of this piece is me reconciling the knowledge that it’s okay that my son will in all likelihood read as and identify as white with the feeling of loss that there is a huge, hard-won part of my experience that I may never be able to fully pass along to him or have him understand. It will hurt me and cost me if he doesn’t claim his Puerto Rican identity. And, also, I accept that he probably will not and ultimately perhaps doesn’t need to. That’s the fulcrum of the play. But hopefully it’s a comedy lol. My idea for this show originated as a set of reflections and anecdotes about my interracial marriage and my anxieties about the near-certain dilution of my future children. Somewhere along the way, as I wrote joke after joke lampooning my wife and kid for how white they are, I realized I would eventually have to reckon with how white I was too. Spoiler alert!”

  • TORCHED! playing June 1-18, 2023
    Director: Rosalba Rolón
    Musical Director: Desmar Guevara

The legacy of the Bronx fires is a sticky one and forever tied to histories of popular resistance and uplift. Pulsing to the beat of salsa, funk disco, and hip hop, Pregones/PRTT’s TORCHED! alternates from 1970’s New York —when news of the fires dominated headlines— to present day survival and rebuilding. Part investigative theater and part poetic fiction, the production brings forward true stories of those who lived through the devastation to lay bare the infamies of the arson-for-profit business.

TORCHED! pays tribute to the real people who fought back, who continue to want to set the record straight, who continue to research, give testimony, and unmask the ugly truths behind the fires. With this production, the artists of Pregones/PRTT’s performing ensemble join the generations of Bronx artists and activists shining light on this period of our history.

THANK YOU: The 2022 production of Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat is made possible, in part, by a grant from Axe-Houghton Foundation. Pregones/PRTT’s Mainstage is also generously funded by Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Shubert Foundation, and Scherman Foundation. Programs also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; and New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. To see our full list of current funders see Support > Funders tab.

                             

Featured Image: Mainstage 2022-2023 illustrations by Jeison Rivera.

Press contact: Rosanna Plasencia <rosanna at stratahbee dot com>

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