Caitlin Howle sat down with Tatyana-Marie Carlo and Orlando Hernández, part of the team behind this year’s Teatro en El Verano bilingual outdoor production of Much Ado About Nothing/Tanta Bulla… ¿Y Pa’ Qué?
Teatro en El Verano would not be possible without Rhode Island Latino Arts (RILA). Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, RILA has become Rhode Island’s leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of Latino arts. RILA continues to celebrate and promote Latino art through an extensive network and catalog of Latinx artists in the state and by hosting networking events for artists to meet and collaborate.
Trinity Rep and RILA have worked together for several years. In 2017, we partnered for Trinity Rep’s third annual America Too event: Just Like Us, a play written by Latina playwright, Karen Zacarías, which was based on the real story of DREAMers and shows the human cost of ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Marta V. Martínez, Executive Director and Community Oral Historian at RILA, is a resident artist at Trinity Rep. Many playwrights, directors, and actors that work with RILA also work regularly on Trinity Rep productions.
Every year, Teatro en El Verano tours throughout Rhode Island at outdoor venues, producing free public performances in parks and other outdoor spaces. This year, Much Ado About Nothing/Tanta Bulla… ¿Y Pa’ Qué? will present fun challenges and opportunities for the cast to tell their story in Spanish and English in spaces around the state.
Caitlin Howle: Why is bilingual theater important? What does it do for the community?
Orlando Hernández: Speaking multiple languages is a reality for lots of people. There are a lot of people in our state who are either Spanish-dominant or who speak both languages, and it’s important that their experience shape the theater that’s made and presented here.
Tatyana-Marie Carlo: My grandparents spoke very little English; my parents and I learned to adapt to our environment while still maintaining our Spanish language. Bilingual theater brings people together without creating additional barriers. It is truly a gift to see my 90-year-old grandmother watch a play with me and understand the story. Being able to share the theater with generations of my family is a gift, and that is what bilingual theater does. Plus, a recent study found it’s good for your health!
CH: It’s amazing that you share this with your grandmother. Will people who speak only English or only Spanish understand the story?
TMC: One hundred percent, if not through the language, then through the actors’ physicality.
OH: Exactly. Over the years, we hear from lots of people who speak only English or only Spanish that they are able to understand and enjoy the story. It’s good for your brain! Kufa Castro, our translator/adapter, is great at giving anchors in both languages; and Tatyana is a great storyteller. Spoken language is only one part of the experience.
CH: Orlando, you’ve been involved with Teatro en El Verano for a long time. Can you tell us about your journey to get there?
OH: In 2016, I had been living in Providence for a couple of years, and I had just gotten involved with Arte Latino of New England’s production of La Jaula de Las Locas. Shoutout to Maritza Martell and Saúl Ramos! Saúl was the translator/adapter for the first Teatro en El Verano production of Romeo and Juliet, so that’s how I heard about it. I was still new to acting — I had more experience as a tap dancer and writer — so it actually changed my life. I feel lucky to be a part of this project. I continue to learn a huge amount about the problems and possibilities of language, storytelling, collaboration, and representation. Increasingly, the project is being driven by Latinx people, and people from Rhode Island, which is really important.
CH: What can we expect about this year’s production of Much Ado About Nothing?
OH: The production is still being developed, but you can definitely expect to enjoy the outdoor locations. Most of the performances happen in parks and other public spaces, which will lead to interesting choices for this play in particular.
TMC: I also hope to bring much more musicality to this production. We have some amazing singers in the cast.
CH: Tatyana, this is your second year in the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Directing program. What is the process for a bilingual production?
TMC: Spanish was my first language growing up, and at times when it comes to English, I am at a loss for words and vice versa in Spanish. I live in a constant mode of translation in my mind. When I work on bilingual English/Spanish plays, there is a sort of shorthand that exists for me. I find that I can be direct and more specific with my thoughts, and in turn, it makes for more clearly defined storytelling.
CH: Last question. What can you tell us about the differences between last year’s production and this year’s?
TMC: The Tempest or La Tempestad is sometimes referred to as a dark comedy or a tragicomedy. Much Ado About Nothing/Tanta Bulla…¿Y Pa’ Qué? is a romantic comedy, which means there will be lots of laughs, dancing, music, people falling in love, and a wedding, maybe even two weddings.
Teatro en El Verano’s production of Much Ado About Nothing/Tanta Bulla…¿Y Pa’ Qué? will perform throughout Rhode Island this summer. All performances are free and open to the public. To find out more, call our box office at (401) 351-4242 or visit www.TrinityRep.com/Teatro. Thanks to The Susan F. Gonsalves Charitable Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation for its sponsorship of this project.