After going quiet during the pandemic, NYC’s Hispanic Alliance of Theaters is back to work on the goal of developing the audience for Latinx theater in New York City – for both New Yorkers and tourists.
New York is a theatre city. Broadway is the pinnacle of theatre in the United States. It is a major draw for tourism. Broadway alone contributes more than $14 billion to the local economy (2019-19 season, CBS News, 2021). There is also Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.
Theatre in New York City started in 1750. New York is a city of immigrants, and the theatre has always been an important means for community expression, and ultimately integration into American society.
The Broadway hit of our generation is New York Puerto Rican, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.” It’s one of the few Broadway shows that entered popular culture. High school kids sing the songs by heart. You can bet that Broadway is looking for the next great talent to emerge from NYC’s Latino communities. We need places for them to develop.
Hispanic Theatre in NYC
Spain has strong theatre traditions. In the Spanish Golden Age, all levels of society enjoyed theatre, from royals to the homeless. There was even more Spanish theatre than in the English Renaissance. So much theatre was produced that it can be hard to pick out the gems, but there are many.
There may be earlier examples, but Latino theatre in NYC goes back at least to Teatro Puerto Rico which presented Spanish-language variety shows in The Bronx in the 1940s-50s. Many elder New Yorkers have fond memories of going there with their families. A few became actors themselves. The Broadway League says that being exposed to theatre as a child is a key factor in enjoying theatre as an adult.
A group of New York Cubans have been producing repertory theatre in Spanish at Repertorio Español in Manhattan for over 50 years. The Thalia Spanish Theatre in Queens has produced over 215 productions in the last 45 years. So the foundations for Latino theatre in New York City are strong.
NYC Hispanic Alliance of Theaters
The Alliance of eight Hispanic theaters in NYC was founded in 2010.
- IATI Theater (International Theater Art Institute) @iatitheater
- Teatro LATEA (Latin American Theater Experiment Associates) @teatrolatea
- Pregones/PRTT @pregonesprtt
- Repertorio Español @repertorionyc
- Teatro Círculo @teatrocirculonyc
- Teatro SEA Latino children’s puppet theatre @teatrosea
- Thalia Spanish Theatre @thaliatheatre
These theaters in Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens together reach over 400,000 people every year, so it’s important to make Latinx theater strong again.
Helping Build Hispanic Theatre in NYC
The Spanish Consulate in New York recently brought Alliance leaders together with the Consul General of Spain, Caridad Batalla, to share ideas and plans to leverage the excitement around Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15). We are stronger together.
- Dr. Manuel A. Morán, Teatro SEA CEO & Artistic Director
- Santiago Herrero, Spanish Cultural Consul
- Vivian Deangelo, Teatro IATI
- Caridad Batalla, Consul General of Spain in NY
- Ángel Gil, Thalia Spanish Theater Director
- Miguel Trelles, Teatro LATEA Director
- Rafael Sanchez, Repertorio Español Director
- Ignacio García-Bustelo, Spanish Artists in New York Director (AENY) @spanishartistsinnewyork
- Jorge Merced, Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater Director
The Consul assigned an experienced Spanish culture promoter to support the project. Celia Maldonado in the Spanish Consulate’s Cultural Affairs department, has a Bachelor’s in International Business and a Masters in Cultural Management. In Madrid, Maldonado managed cultural activities at El Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Spain’s national museum of Modern Art. For the Spanish Consulate in New York, she promotes Spanish culture across the United States.
Raising the visibility of Latinx theatre in New York City benefits both New Yorkers and the millions of visitors who come looking for something special in New York City that they can’t find at home.
As NYC bounces back from the pandemic, we want to come back stronger than before. Our stages are small, but our theatre is big!