Our city offers some of the finest Theatre in the country, with several local houses harvesting pre-Broadway spectacles and groundbreaking social works. It is arguably this rich and thriving community that propels fresh and new artists to join the scene in hopes of presenting impactful stories to audiences.
One of these important companies is Teatro San Diego, created after the 2020 pandemic with the goal of bringing approachable Art and Theatre to the two largest minority communities of the County, Mexican and Filipino. “Teatro”, meaning Theatre in both Spanish and Tagalog, is the perfect way to represent these prominent cultures.
Teatro’s Mission statement:
“Teatro San Diego exists to further the founding social activists and artists’ vision of bringing to life the multi-cultural spirit of San Diego through world-class visual and performing arts. To create an extended community by bringing together its many isolated and under-served communities in order to raise their visibility. By building facilities in southern San Diego and putting on grand professional productions across the globe, Teatro San Diego aims to provide arts education for all people while celebrating and maintaining San Diego’s rich cultural heritage.”
As we come out of a global pandemic, our society is hungry for Entertainment, Theatre, and Arts Education. It vouches for the immeasurable social and emotional impact the Arts have in all of us. We need it!
We chatted with Teatro San Diego’s artistic directors Sheldon Gomabon and Julio Cataño about what is in store for 2023 and what San Diego’s LGBTQ community can expect to see from them in the new year.
“We have many exciting things planned for 2023 including a full musical production of West Side Story at the City Heights Performance Annex this summer, free of charge, as well as the second edition of our dance lab where we bring in local choreographers and showcase newly developed movement pieces. Our mission continues into the new year as we strive to offer even more opportunities through performance and arts education and continue to bring together a community celebrating San Diego’s rich cultural heritage.”, they explained.
Arts education is an important puzzle piece of the company, as it offers affordable programs in dance, Musical Theatre audition prep, and Improv to the inner-city communities that historically had to travel further to receive these types of classes. “Our aim is to reduce that geographic barrier by serving these communities and offering more easily accessed opportunities, like seeing a show or being a part of one”, they added.
Teatro’s commitment to representation, inclusion, and accessibility, ring true within our LGBTQ Community, as most of us are entangled in Theatre as audience members and artists equally. All the performers and creatives of their productions are paid for their art, while still being able to offer full professional productions free of charge to the public or at a very low cost.
When asked what the LGBTQ community would connect with during one of their productions, they quickly answered, “Our energy, colors, and dancing are the first things that come to mind. We usually produce large dance shows and are planning to have events in Hillcrest this coming season that celebrate the authenticity and individuality of our cast and creative teams, many who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. The stories we tell aim to investigate all points of view. We hope to continue telling new stories this season with that spirit as we develop and partner with local writers and bring their fresh and unique stories to the forefront.”
Representation is a crucial element of Teatro San Diego. The team wants to make sure that audiences see themselves in the diverse roster of artists and become inspired to fall in love with Theatre and even train to be part of it. Young audiences particularly need to experience the magic of Theatre as part of their cultural development as emotional beings. “We hope they leave with the motivation that they absolutely have the skills to do the thing they’ve always wanted to do and say, “Hey if they can do it, I can too,” and begin to create opportunities for themselves and their own communities”, added Gomabon and Cataño.
Teatro San Diego is still a non-profit organization, and it needs the help of the community to keep operating, so if you have the means, consider donating to their company, financially, with direct involvement as a volunteer production crew, or even sharing their content on social media to help them grow.
Inviting, ambitious, and eclectic, are the three words the artistic directors used to describe their organization, all tying in with their commitment to the community. Their productions of Songs for a New World and The Wiz have already brought them recognition from peers, press, and audiences alike.
“We cannot do what we do without your continued generosity and sincerely thank you for all your support this past year. We look forward to meeting you and expanding our Teatro San Diego family as we continue to grow in 2023. Thank you again for your support and Happy New Year!”, they concluded as a message to the San Diego Community.
Facebook: Teatro San Diego