Denvers long-lived Chicano theater ensemble, Su Teatro, will step up next week to receive the Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. But the group is also moving closer each day toward the realization of a dream: a new facility taking shape on Santa Fe Drive. And if every step Su Teatro takes seems like another sign of growth, the organizations Big Read Project, which showcases Rudolfo Anayas autobiographical classic, Bless Me, Ultima, represents a leap, particularly in the way it kicks off tonight with the opening of a workshop production of the novel, adapted by Anaya himself and directed by Jennifer McCray Rincon, the former Head of Acting at the National Theatre Conservatory (and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama).
Weve used the idea of writing and telling stories as the vocabulary and conception of the piece, Rincon says of the play, which she describes as the story of the author finding his voice by remembering his grandmother, Ultima, as a force in his development as an adult and a writer. The actors are constantly listening and reading; there are even papers on the wall. Theres this whole concept at work of the play actually coming out of the pages of the book. And although health and other commitments prevent him from traveling here, Rincon feels as if she now knows Anaya quite well, through constant telephone contact. Writers need time, she adds. I want to give him a chance to play with it. In the future, shed like to see a full-blown production to coincide with Su Teatros slow, certain move into the bigtime.
But in the meantime, Bless Me, Ultima continues on weekends through February 28 at 4725 High Street; community readings of the book follow beginning in March, with additional tie-ins to the Xicanindie Film and Neruda Poetry festivals later this spring. Admission to the play is $12 to $15; visit www.suteatro.org or call 303-296-0219.
Thursdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8:05 p.m. Starts: Feb. 12. Continues through Feb. 28, 2009