Aug. 10, 2018 By Tara Law
A new play at Long Island City’s Secret Theater will explore Hispanic folklore and identity in the context of Trump’s America.
The play “Eight Tales of Pedro” opens this Sunday and runs until Aug. 29 at the theater at 44-02 23rd St. The plot focuses on a pair of parallel narratives—a fantastical 17th century Mexico and a modern-day road trip in a van.
Through the dual narratives, a cast of six actors tell eight classic Spanish folktales. The plot examines what it means to be Latino today while also exploring the timelessness of Spanish and Latin American culture.
The play was created by a pair of Woodside residents, playwright and producer Mark-Eugene Garcia and his husband, director Rodrigo Bolaños.
Garcia said that he has been fascinated by Latin American and Spanish folklore for many years, but the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency finally inspired him to look into his Latino heritage and to move forward with the project.
Garcia, a Woodside resident who was born in southern California, said that he was disturbed by the shift in attitudes towards Latinos after the 2016 presidential election. However, an appalling incident at his customer service job was the catalyst for the play.
When he approached a pair of customers to try and resolve an argument, he said, one of them looked at him and said, “Are you even a citizen?”
“It just blew me away,” Garcia said. “But I took it as a reason to look back at my heritage. I wanted to find the honor of it.”
Garcia researched his family on the site Ancestry.com and learned more about his heritage in Mexico and Honduras.
Inspired, he finally felt prepared to write the play and drafted a first script.
He and Bolaños then invited a group of six actors they respect to do a reading of the play and to discuss their own heritage. The actors included Laura Aguinaga (ABC’s Shades of Blue), Roberto Alexander (The Underpants Godot), Richard E. Calvache, Germainne Lebron, Kat Peña, and Stephen Santana.
The six shared details about their heritage across Latin America, from countries such as Peru, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.
Garcia then took their suggestions and incorporated elements of different Latin cultures into the play.
Garcia said that he’s very proud of the result, and that he hopes that the play will inspire dialogue in the community.
“I’m looking forward to this becoming a period piece,” Garcia said.
“Eight Tales of Pedro” will be performed on Aug. 12 at 3:00 p.m., Aug. 18 at 8:00 p.m., Aug. 23 at 7:30 p.m., and Aug 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door.