By Ann Fox
The 2017 – 2018 season of Spanish language entertainment in New York was superb. We went from Divas de España with parodies of Lola Flores, Rocio Jurado and Sara Montiel in Queens to Flamenco Vivo in Brooklyn to Don Quijote in Manhattan. Lots of travelling by subway, lots of chances to strike up a conversation in Spanish.
Ever since I stopped living in Spain in the nineties, I have sought out venues near home in New York that specialize in theater in Spanish. Probably the most well-known is the Repertorio Español that offers plays by Latin American and Spanish authors. This season’s offerings include Doña Flor y Sus Dos Maridos and Garcia Marquez’ El Coronel No Tiene Quien Lo Esciba. Prices are reasonable and there are digital subtitles at every seat in case you miss something. My favorite Spanish restaurant, El Pote, is about ten short blocks away, so the Repertorio is one of my favorite theaters.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music presented Carlota Santana’s well-known Flamenco show last season. Although that show is not scheduled, BAM often has a program in Spanish. Ms. Santana runs The Center for Flamenco Arts in Manhattan which offers flamenco lessons. I have put off signing up for so many years that I’m afraid I’ll need a geriatric class.
The Queens Theater is offering the aforementioned Carlota Santana’s Navidad Flamenca in a few weeks and will feature the fun Latin Dance Fiesta show in the spring. For the last two years, it has been the home of Frida Libre a musical monologue on the life of Frida Kahlo. Each year there has been new material and I am looking forward to seeing it again.
The Queens Theater is a lovely venue situated in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, the home of the World’s Fair of 1939 and the New York World’s Fair in 1964. It’s also home to the Mets. It’s an easy number 7 train ride from Manhattan and when you get off, the Mets are to the left, the old World’s Fair buildings and theater are down a tree-lined allée to the right. And this being Queens, there are great Ecuadorian and Colombian restaurants all along the number 7 route. By the way, do not be put off by the “Flushing ” part. The word is a corruption of the Dutch town Vlissingen.
The Thalia Spanish Theater in Sunnyside, Queens, also on the number 7 train line. It calls itself the only bilingual Spanish theater in Queens. It hosted the wonderful Divas show last year, and offers many eclectic, fun programs including upcoming Tango and Flamenco shows. Between these shows you’ll find “Queens of the Night,” if you want to drag yourself over.
Theater SEA in the Clemente Building in downtown Manhattan offers programming for adults as well as children. Caperucita Roja is playing now. There are bilingual puppet shows and a puppet museum. SEA was one venue for my favorite Ecuadorian Film Festival, now in its fourth year.
The EFF takes place in theaters around the city at no pre-determined time of the year, so a look at its website is a must. It’s amazing that a country as small as Ecuador has such a range of excellent filmmakers. This year we saw an excellent documentary on a winning hard-scrabble Ecuadorian soccer team. We hoped the children in the family would follow in Spanish – their comment, “great subtitles”.
All these places have websites. Don’t forget that a lot of performances are in the “outer boroughs” as Manhattanites like to say. That number 7 train itself is worth the trip. From the open-air stations you can see Manhattan on one side and the planes landing at La Guardia on the other side. Viva el teatro!
Frida Kahlo and Divas de España: flyers
Navidad Flamenca/Spainculture.us, Fair use
Ecuadorian Film Festival/supplied
Line 7/Metropolitan Transporation Authority, CC BY2.0