Latino theater has new hi-tech comfortable home

Posted 10/25/23

In 1997, a Providence public high school teacher Nancy Patiño convened a group of Latino artists in Providence to offer youth afterschool programming where they could explore their own …

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Latino theater has new hi-tech comfortable home


In 1997, a Providence public high school teacher Nancy Patiño convened a group of Latino artists in Providence to offer youth afterschool programming where they could explore their own cultures. This was the beginning of the Educational Center of Arts and Science (ECAS).

Francis Parra led the theater program, which became Teatro ECAS, an independent 501c3 arts nonprofit. Since then, Teatro ECAS has been the leading Latino theater in New England, presenting classical and contemporary plays in Spanish, training a generation of actors, and offering educational programming for all ages. Teatro ECAS has also staged plays in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Cuba.  Today, Teatro ECAS is the only Latino repertory theater in New England. 

Teatro ECAS is one of only a handful of theaters in the country producing Spanish language theater full-time. In addition to the start of the new season, Teatro ECAS was recently announced as a grant recipient of The National Latinx Theatre Initiative, based in Los Angeles. The National Latinx Theater Initiative is a new re-granting program that will boost the national profile of Latinx theater companies across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, disperse funds needed to pursue greater financial stability and nurture artistic voices in a post-pandemic landscape. Teatro ECAS was the only theater (out of 52 awarded) from New England!

ECAS Theater operates a 90-seat theater and community arts space located at 679 Valley Street, Providence. The theater underwent a $1.2 million renovation back in April after moving from its previous location on Parkis Avenue in Providence. The theater’s new location occupies a comfortable black box space, unhindered sight lines, comfortable seating and a technical sound and lighting grid that must be the envy of most black box theaters in New England. Supertitles are displayed upstage, above the action of the play.   Although I speak fluent Italian and could follow most of the Spanish dialogue, I was grateful for the English supertitles that provided the audience a complete and enjoyable understanding of the play’s context.  Parking is limited.  The theater is handicap accessible.

In addition to their production season, Teatro ECAS provides acting, singing and dancing classes in Spanish for children ages seven through sixteen, along with workshops and summer camps.

Teatro ECAS is a diamond within Rhode Island’s multi-cultural inhabitants.  This gem highlights an inclusive and culturally diverse environment where language, culture, and artistic expressions can flourish, entertain, educate, excite and inspire.

Who is the Fool?

Teatro ECAS Presents “Terapia” (Therapy)

Teatro ECAS presents the first show of their 26th Season.  Terapia (Therapy) a comedy in three, “therapeutic sessions” including a diagnosis by Argentine playwright, Martín Giner, and directed by Francis Parra, ECAS Artistic Director.  The premise of the play is to pose the question as to Who is the Fool – The doctor or the patient?

The play opens on a nearly bare stage.  One center stage desk with minimal props, a wastepaper basket, far stage-left, and two chairs in front of the desk.  There are minimal light and sound queues, and Parra’s adept direction is non-intrusive to the play's core focus which is the dialogue – the centerpiece of the play.  The temptation for an over-the-top, farcical production seems obvious. There are few moments of uninterrupted laughter in this production.  However, Parra avoids the "schtick" and creates authentic characters of both doctor and patient.  Thus, allowing us to connect ourselves with them by sharing our own human folly. It is the authenticity of the situation that warrants laughter.

As comical as it is, this is a challenging script for two actors. Doctor Juan García, played by Jose Luis Suazo, and patient, played by Andersson Tejeda are point perfect in their roles. They engage in a fascinating dialogue with both intelligence and humor as they unravel topics such as family miscommunication, social conditioning, hypocrisy, loneliness, sexuality, and the value of psychoanalysis. Their sessions volley between absurdity and reality, leading the audience to the brink in raucous delight,  only to pull us back into careful reflection of our own perceptions. Our reality may not always be what it seems.

This is a beautiful play, a story well told, well directed and flawlessly acted.  Bravo to ECAS for mounting Martin Griner's hilariously insightful play.  Don't miss it – last chance is this weekend!

Presented by: Teatro ECAS

Location: 679 Valley Street, Providence, 02908

Time: 7:00 - 8:30 PM

This production runs 1.5 hours without intermission. 

Performance Dates: 10/19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28 & 29

Price: Starting at $30

Box Office: 401-421-3227 or (subscriptions available)


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