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¡Dignidad!

­­¡DIGNIDAD! -- Repertorio Español’s education initiative to develop students’ understanding and appreciation for live theatre.

Mentoring Program

Through our EDUCATIONAL RESIDENCY PROGRAM, Repertorio believes that students can be introduced to careers in the arts such as acting, playwrights, designers, technicians, and administrators.

Study Guides


DOLORES PRIDA

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From Caibarién to the Big Apple
Dolores Prida was born the oldest of three children in Caibarién, on the northern coast of Cuba. "My mother, who is now dead, was the typical Latina mother, the martyr type, and my father, who is a very handsome man, was the Don Juan of the small town. And my mother knew, so there was a soap opera every other night. I always said, "I'm not going to be like my mother" because I saw her suffering, being a victim. I would have kicked my father out. Sometimes you gain strength from weakness."

Soon after the 1959 revolution her father fled to the US in a boat, and two years later the family followed. Dolores recalls arriving as a teenager "with nothing. The first thing I did when I came to Miami was to borrow a dime to call my uncle for $50 to come to New York." She started working in a bakery, up to her elbows in dough, but six months later she had been promoted to its office, and by the time she left the bakery six years later, she was editing the employee newsletter. She had found her destiny.

The Young Author
"The need to say who I am and where I come from and what makes me tick has been there all along," says Prida, who has produced poems, stories, and journalism since childhood. "I love learning and I'm an avid reader," she says, "but for writing, you don't need a diploma-it's not like being a dentist." Prida never earned a university degree. Instead she took literature courses at Hunter College night school for years and went on to a successful career in journalism, writing and editing for New York's Spanish-language daily, El Tiempo, as well as Visión, Nuestro, and AHA!, the monthly newsletter of the Association of Hispanic Arts. She also published poetry.

Her acquaintance with theatre began in the mid-1970s. "I never went to the theatre in Cuba, because I'm from a small town," Prida recalls. "There was no such thing. We only had two movie houses." She saw her first live play in Manhattan. The first musical she experienced - most of her later plays would involve music - was the film of West Side Story, which she found "so weird-people just start singing out of nowhere."

Her theatrical work began in 1976 with a collective group, Teatro Popular, on the Lower East Side. She is proud of the practical training she gained there. "I didn't write a play until I had been involved with other things: doing the props, doing the lights out of tomato cans, running the music cues." Perhaps most important, she found with Teatro Popular the kind of theatre she loved. "In most of Latin America," she says, "theatre is a class thing-theatre for the rich people who want to wear their best clothes and their pearls-or an intellectual thing-modern and avant-garde groups. And on Latino TV, all you get is soap operas made in Mexico where everybody's blonde and middle- and upper-class. There's really very little of everyday life, everyday people." At Teatro Popular, she found her kind of theatre, "a popular theatre, theatre for people to identify with."

Professional Playwright
In the next decade, Prida wrote nine plays. Some were one acts. Many were musicals. Her special home was at Duo, an experimental theatre on East 4th Street which she describes as "my kitchen, where I experiment." But she has also worked at INTAR and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. She mixes her languages, writing bilingual, English and Spanish scripts. She frequently takes up political topics: feminine stereotypes in Las Beautiful Señoritas (1977), the endless begging of community organizations through grant applications in The Beggars Soap Opera (1979), or the end of the world as a setting for soap opera in Pantallas (1986). But she normally treats these topics in a light and thought-provoking way, with music, farce, and satire.
Prida's two great issues, being a woman and being bicultural, run through her plays from Las beautiful señoritas to Casa Propia. "My intention as a writer is to explore, in many different ways, our being here," she says. "Being from a different culture. Trying to fit in or not fit in. How other people see us, how we see ourselves." In Coser y Cantar (1981), she dramatized the two-sidedness of women and Latin-Americans by showing two characters named She and Ella-two selves in the same woman-in a New York apartment.

These issues also underlie her nondramatic work as a Senior Editor at Latina Magazine. "I enjoy working there with young Latinas," she says. "Younger Latinas today are more self-assured. They have opportunities we didn't have thirty years ago. With the boom of Latino popular culture we're experiencing, they feel it's 'cool' to be a Latina-and they rejoice in it. As an older Latina it makes me proud that in my lifetime I can see a magazine of such quality for and by Latinas."

Much of Prida's theatre "works on different levels." On the outside, she says, "the play is very funny-laugh, laugh, laugh," but underneath lie serious issues. Botánica (1991), her first production at Repertorio Español, echoed the trauma confronting "many young Puerto Rican women today who go off to study at a university out of New York. Some of them can make it, but some of them win scholarships and then they give up. They're like fish out of water." She describes Casa Propia, which opened at Repertorio Español in January, 1999, as "a comedy/drama about a group of women in search of a space of their own."
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We Thank Our Sponsors
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Study Guides
JULIA ÁLVAREZ - En el tiempo de las mariposas

FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA: The House of Bernarda Alba & Bodas de Sangre

CARMEN RIVERA: La gringa

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

MIGUEL DE CERVANTES: El Quijote

ISABEL ALLENDE: The House of the Spirits

PEDRO CALDERÓN DE LA BARCA: Life is a Dream

SILVIA GONZÁLEZ S: Boxcar

MARIO VARGAS LLOSA: The Feast of the Goat

NILO CRUZ: Anna In The Tropics

NUESTRAS VOCES: Vieques & Bufalo Herido

CUBA TEATRO: Abelardo Estorino

CUBA TEATRO: A Century of Theatre in Cuba

FRANKLIN DOMÍNGUEZ




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