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2010-2011 Season Statement

Where We Are and How We Got Here


In this, our 27th season, Castillo is reflecting on where we are and how we got here, simultaneously looking forward and backward.


It’s never easy to know where you are when you’re there. It’s much easier to know, or at least to think you know, where you were when you look back, when the results of what you were doing then have become manifest. And yet looking back is also tricky. Memory is slippery. It comes and goes, slides in and out of focus, fades to grey and then flashes with brilliant clarity. It’s constantly being shaped and re-shaped. Shaped and re-shaped by what? By what happens next. The past is always being recast by the present. And, at the same time (so to speak), the present keeps changing. Changed by what? By what just happened. What can we do with all this? We can tell stories. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we don’t confuse these stories with some absolute called “the truth.”


What we call these stories is history. History is shaped not only by what actually happened but also by what we say — through plays, films, television, novels, songs and poems, and, of course, the stories we tell each other and our children and grandchildren — about what happened. Culture is how we shape the past and how we find, if we can, the ways to move forward.


The plays we’re producing and the conversations we hope to engender with those performances this season are yet another telling of our story.


We’re doing two plays by Fred Newman, Castillo’s artistic director emeritus and playwright-in-residence, whose artistic and political leadership continues to shape our history. We’re producing his very first play, Mr. Hirsch Died Yesterday, which explores the nature of social identity. It’s directed by Woodie King, Jr., founder and producing director of the New Federal Theatre and one of the country’s most important African American directors and producers. We’re also producing Newman’s only dance drama, License to Dream, which projects the All Stars Project’s pedagogy into song and dance. It’s directed by David Nackman, who has been acting, directing and organizing at Castillo for over 20 years, with dances by choreographer Javier Dzul, who is working at Castillo for the first time.


Our season also features Playing With Heiner Müller, a montage of excerpts from the works of the late East German playwright Heiner Müller, directed by All Stars Project president and CEO Gabrielle L. Kurlander. This production, with an all Black cast, explores the weird and wonderful love affair between Müller, one of Europe’s most sophisticated avant-garde playwrights, and Castillo, a theatre that often introduces live theatre to people for the first time in their lives. This spring, Castillo is presenting a festival of new plays by playwrights from the Youth Onstage! Playwriting Workshop. The “Young Playwrights From Castillo” festival is a living example of ordinary people — in this case, poor and working class young people of color — telling their own stories, writing their own plays, and shaping their own history.


Castillo also produces, through the All Stars Talent Show Network, hip-hop talent shows in communities all over New York City. Throughout the season, The Proverbial Loons perform musical improv comedy here on 42nd Street. Both hip-hop and improv have been important elements in the constantly evolving Castillo story. The 2010-2011 season embodies Castillo’s history, not as a static artifact, but as a constant coming-into-being.


Dan Friedman, Artistic Director