Playhouse diversity a goal of artistic director - Albuquerque Journal

Playhouse diversity a goal of artistic director

If teens show up to watch their peers onstage in “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” that would be good news to Cristina Duarte.

The new artistic director at the Santa Fe Playhouse wants the theater’s audience to reflect its community, so attracting new viewers is one of her top goals. “I really would like to see a little more diversity at the Playhouse,” Duarte said. “It’s become too homogenous an audience. I would like to see more celebration of other cultures: Native American, Hispanic … also younger folks.”

She wouldn’t say it directly, but anyone who has attended productions there knows that the audience tends to be mostly over 50 and Anglo – a situation shared by many arts organizations in the city.

A teacher of English at Santa Fe Indian School, Duarte will use her instructional skills to help expose more young people to the theater through programs at the Playhouse. She’s starting a teen/young adult acting class, which she hopes the Playhouse will expand to include instruction in other aspects of live theater, such as writing plays.

“They can carry on the torch for the Playhouse in the years ahead,” she said of prospective students.

The acting class runs 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., beginning this Saturday through Nov. 11.

Duarte said she has studied and taught at the Stella Adler Conservatory at New York University and got a master’s degree from the Hunter College theater program with the City University of New York, where she also taught acting and theater history as an adjunct professor for three years.

Besides teaching for 16 years, she also has performed, including a nine-year stint in the supporting cast of “Saturday Night Live.” That means she helped fill in the background, with a rare chance at getting some lines.

“It was great to work with that cast, the crew and all the wonderful hosts,” she said.

Another new offering at the Playhouse this season will be a Playwright’s Forum Nov. 20-23, with a staged reading of four original plays, one of which will then be selected for production in March.

And, yes, the well-loved Benchwarmers series, with 15-minute original plays performed onstage, will end the season in June.

In the meantime, renovations will be underway at the Playhouse, both in the backstage dressing area and in the front lobby, Duarte said. The work out front will “bring in Santa Fe style so it will look like a Santa Fe jewelbox when you walk through the doors,” she said.

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