Beauty and the Beast

by Rose Cano

in National Conference

Post image for Beauty and the Beast

(This post is part of the 2014 TCG National Conference: Crossing Borders {Survive| Thrive} blog salon curated by Caridad Svich.)

“Theatre is a beast”, as a fellow actor/director/producer told me the other day.  The effort that is required of a small theatre and its artists to feed this voracious and creative beast is enormous.  The continuous multitasking , the needing to have a day job to feed the theatre habit by night.  Yet all of the major theatres clamor the need for diverse and innovative audiences provided by these small companies, in order to keep pace with the unfolding demographics of our country.  Can we do more than survive, while feeding the beast.  Will beauty and art become the secondary priority?

Artists who run small independent theatres, ethnically specific or otherwise, are by definition multi-taskers.  Artists find themselves as full-time administrators and part time creators in order to keep pace with the demands of running a relevant theatre company.  Functioning on the brink of survival mode, the capacity to make the beautiful art that once inspired us is diminished.  Is theatre a great beast?  Is there room for beauty?

We can ponder our relationship to established regional theatre.

There are definite advantages to partnering with larger regional theatres, for example, the ability to lean on some of their infrastructure while helping them meet their diversity and outreach goals.  Is this the answer for small theatres or is it merely cultural poaching?  Will small theatres get absorbed into the big programming machine of large regional theatre in order to survive economically?  Is economic survival equivalent to thriving artistically?   What are the cultural compromises made in these partnerships?

For the many small and ethnically specific theatres sprouting across the nation every day, what is an alternative creative path forward, beyond survival?


Rose Cano (Peruvian born Seattle raised) is a founding member and Artistic Director of eSe Teatro, and a graduate of Cornish College. As a bilingual actor/playwright/director, she has presented her shows in English and Spanish in Minneapolis, New York, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Peru, and Colombia. She most recently played Espanta in the World Premiere production of The Hunchback of Seville by Charise Castro Smith at Washington Ensemble Theatre. She appeared in a reading of Boom Crackle Fly by Charise Castro Smith for ACT Theatre’s Construction Zone and in eSe Oro for eSe Teatro/ ACT Central Heating Lab. Favorite roles include Jocasta in Oedipus El Rey for eSe Teatro/ACT Theatre, and Ferula in In The House of the Spirits at BookIt Repertory Theatre. Her original bilingual plays and musicals include Self Portrait, Tierra Sin Mal (Land Without Malice) Mabaire! Don’t Forget Me!, Callejón (The Alley). Her play Don Quixote & Sancho Panza, Homeless in Seattle opens this September at ACT Theatre/eSe Teatro, directed by David Quicksall. Her adaptation of La Mariposa by Francisco Jimenez will be produced this fall for BookIt Repertory Theatre’s touring program. Directing credits include Electricidad by Luis Alfaro, El Ultimo Coconut by Gerald Alejandro Ford.