ChariseRogelioAbelCharise Castro Smith, Rogelio Martinez, and Abel Gonzalez Melo are among the Cuban and Cuban-American playwrights represented in this year’s Crossing Borders Festival at Two River Theater. 

In case you didn’t know, New Jersey is second only to Florida among states in its number of Cuban-heritage residents. So when relations between Washington and Havana took a turn toward normalization this year, Jerry Ruiz saw an opportunity to dedicate this year’s Crossing Borders Festival to a genuinely historic milestone.

For the director and curator of the annual event – a free, multi-day celebration of new works by Latino creatives at Red Bank’s Two River Theater – the “Crossing Borders” brand already carried multiple layers of meaning, and with the figurative crossing into Cuba comes a chance to fulfill a mission that Ruiz has described as “creating a new audience, by building a bridge to a community.”

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