Gentleman or bums: You decide (An interview with playwright Rose Cano)

Gentleman or bums: You decide (An interview with playwright Rose Cano)

La Luna Nueva  — Miracle Theatre Group’s festival of Hispanic arts and culture from around the world in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month — opens in just a couple of weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited about the diverse line-up (see the whole schedule in English; vea el horario completo en español).  Our Marketing Assistant Stefanus Gunawan continues his look backstage visits with our guest artists, offering an inside look at their life, their passion, their art.  Here, guest blogger Stefanus Gunawan chats with Seattle playwright Rose Cano.

In her La Luna Nueva festival show, Rose Cano will transport you to the streets of Seattle as two iconic friends of 16th century Spain navigate the healthcare system.  A comedic odd couple, these homeless gentlemen struggle to keep their dignity as “caballeros” while fending for themselves and encountering strange characters. Featuring poet, musician and actor José Carrillo as Don Quixote, talented Chicano solo artist Gerald Alejandro Ford as Sancho Panza, and Seattle actors Angela Maestas, Carolynne Wilcox, Fernando Cavallo and Maristela Diaz under the direction of Miracle Theatre Group’s own Olga Sanchez.  Recommended for ages 12 and older. Bilingual.  ¡Disfrute, escuche, y échese a reír!

How did you develop and conceptualize the idea of Cervantes and being homeless?  How does that blend with Cervantes’ characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza?
Here is a clip that explains, in detail, Cano’s development of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza: Homeless in Seattle.

Were there any conflicts which you encountered during the creation of this play?
As far as conflicts go, I received a tremendous amount of feedback, and the speed bumps that I have encountered have fueled me to fine tune the performance; for example, how to demonstrate socio-economic level issues and inequalities amongst the homeless community and, specifically, the Latino homeless community.  Fortunately, after seeing the show for themselves, the RNS and Psych units at the hospitals which I have a strong association with, have told me personally that they were amazed how realistic it felt.

What were some of the reactions that you received from the public and homeless advocacy groups?
The reactions has been overwhelmingly positive both from the public and advocacy groups.  They have commented on how much it raises a public awareness, an understanding, and a sympathetic view of the homelessness situation even if the show is revolved in this comical performance between Don Quixote, who doesn’t speak any English, and Sancho Panza, who is Don Quixote’s translator and does a ridiculous job of translating Don Quixote’s words.  More to that, I have displayed the show to three Latino homeless shelter and one English speaking shelter, and in their eyes, it was like a voice for them, representing them, and it assured them that there is still hope.

This year’s La Luna Nueva festival is made possible with the support of PGE Foundation, The Oregonian, Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art.  Festival events occur September 14-29, 2012 at El Centro Milagro, 525 SE Stark Street, Portland, Oregon 97214; a complete schedule is available here. Admission varies; several events are FREE. Purchase tickets at 503-236-7253 or (follow links for “La Luna Nueva” in right-hand sidebar).