RED BANK: PLAY SERIES UNITES COMMUNITIES

Red Bank Regional student Patricia Martinez, second from right above,with her family at the Two River Theater Sunday. Below, Chilean women talk about the evening’s reading. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

The Latino immigrant experience came to life on stage at the Two River Theater in Red Bank this weekend at the third annual Crossing Borders festival, a free series of Latino-authored play readings and discussions., featuring discussions between audience and actors and director afterward.

Sunday’s play, ‘Ropes,’ which was read in Spanish with an English translation available, was about a reunion between three brothers and their father who had left the family to become a renowned tightrope walker.

“We all loved it,” said Patricia Martinez, a junior at Red Bank Regional High School who has attended the theater’s Summer Theater Camp for the past three years. “The actors were awesome, in and out of character – they were cheerful, funny, and intriguing.”

The takeaway for Martinez? “You think other families are perfect, but they’re not.”

“I feel lucky to have my dad here,” said one of Martinez’ brothers, Rafael.

A group of Chilean women who have attended every year of the series also shared thoughts and reactions.

“I think it’s very important that the Two River Theater has done Crossing Borders, because it introduces people to this form of art,” said Marisol Mondaca, who translated from Spanish for some of the others. “It also makes us feel welcome, understood, and that this theater is not just for the elite, but for everybody.”

The drama also conveyed important life experience within the Latino community.

“Even if our children are born here, they’ll be able to relate to our world, what we went through,” said Claudia Serey. “Everything can come through theater.”

In Chile, Serey added, theater is much more affordable. “In our country, very poor people go the theater,” she said.

The festival is the Two River Theater’s way of breaking down barriers to both the public and the aspiring playwright. “In addition to furthering the theater’s relationship with our local Latino/Hispanic community, the festival supports complex, ambitious theater artists,” artistic director John Dias said in a statement.