Summer 2018 was the 3rd year of Teatro en el Verano, a collaboration between Trinity Rep and Rhode Island Latino Arts, which brings free bilingual theater to parks and community spaces around RI. We presented a bilingual Spanish/English version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo. I did the translation and assistant directed.
In early June, I was a part of the remounting of A Furtive Movement: The Use of Farce, written by Vatic Kuumba and directed by Ronald K. Lewis, a work of immersive social science fiction theater aimed at police and state violence against black people. I played Nathaniel Greene. Watch a video here of the playwright talking about the project.
At the end of May, I performed at the SPACE Gallery in Portland, ME, in their Moving in SPACE: Works in Progress series. I collaborated with the Maine-based saxophonist and composer Danny Fisher-Lochhead on a piece called The Difference Between a Bell-Tower and a Cow, which departs from short melodies attributed to the Tupinambá Indians — first transcribed/dislocated by the Protestant missionary Jean de Léry in his 1578 account, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil.
In May, I got to be a part of a production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice , the 2nd-year project of Addie Gorlin, a candidate in the Brown/Trinity MFA Directing Program. Performances were at the Pell Chafee Center. I played the Interesting Man and the freaky little Lord of the Underworld.
On February 28, with Sussy Santana, I performed at the Providence Public Library for the opening event of the 2018 Exhibition and Program Series HairBrained. I shared a new piece that explores the danger of tugging on a conquistador’s beard…
I played the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Undertaker’s Man in Trinity Rep’s 40th production of A Christmas Carol, adapted and directed by Angela Brazil and Stephen Thorne and choreographed by yon Tande. The show ran from November 9 through December 31.
Veronica Bruscini at BroadwayWorld Rhode Island wrote: “The showstopper of the spirits is Orlando Hernández’s delightful Ghost of Christmas Present. […] Trinity capitalizes on Hernández’s multiple and impressive talents, including a dazzling, blazing-fast display of tap dance and a lively presentation of juggling, to depict the Ghost’s colorful personality and joyful expression. The Spirit of the Present is a master showman, […] but like Christmas Past, he addresses Scrooge sternly and resolutely to drive his message home.”
On October 20, 2017, I shared a new piece, The Indios are like nocturnal birds…, in a live group show accompanying the exhibition ¿Se Aculilló? (Are You Scared?) at the AS220 Resident Gallery (Providence, RI). The exhibition and performance, curated by Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sánchez, featured Latinx artists exploring themes of discomfort and fear.
On September 29, 2017, I had the exciting opportunity to present my piece Instructions for the Safe Delivery of the Royal Knee at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University, as the closing performance of The Activist Body. This daylong symposium, organized by Sarah Wilbur, featured presentations, workshops, and performances promoting “public discourse about the body as a non-negotiable force shaping political, social, and institutional change.” More about it here. I also taught a tap workshop for Brown’s Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, as part of its Master Class and Workshop Series.
With the Spectrum Theater Ensemble, I performed in the Hotel Plays, directed by Erin Cawley and Clay Martin, a site-specific project that integrated scenes from Shakespeare and short plays by Tennessee Williams. In September, we performed it at the Barnaby Castle in Providence and the Gifford House in Provincetown, as part of the 12th Annual Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.
In July 2017, I got to play Romeo again in Trinity Rep and Rhode Island Latino Arts’ bilingual Romeo and Juliet, directed by Tyler Dobrowski and Marcel Mascaró. We brought the free show to Providence parks, libraries, the Southside Cultural Center, WaterFire, Mixed Magic Theater, and the Steel Yard.
In May and June 2017, I played the role of Frondoso in Trinity Rep’s production of Fuenteovejuna. The Golden Age Spanish play, written by Lope de Vega, was adapted into English by Curt Columbus and directed by Mark Valdez.
Here are a few reviews:
In April, I was a part of the Modern Movements Dance Festival at AS220 in Providence, RI, organized by Marc Bucai and Yon Tande. I presented a piece, Instructions for the Safe Delivery of the Royal Knee, in the festival’s Mixed Bill performance, gave a workshop called “Living in the Break,” and participated in a panel discussion moderated by Sarah Wilbur called “De-Mystifying Dance Making.”
(video by Laura Patricia)
I had an amazing experience doing a residency for the month of February at La Casa de Cultura Ruth Hernández Torres in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. The residency, La Espectacular, coordinated by Nibia Pastrana Santiago, Michel Nonó, and Gisela Rosario Ramos, was awarded to 10 Puerto Rican movement-based artists/collectives through the year. A highlight for me was getting to work with the theater artist and choreographer Javier Cardona.
On March 10, at the end of my time there, I presented the piece Si así lo hicieseis, haréis bien… This departs from El Requerimiento of 1513, a legal and religious contract that conquering Spaniards were required to read to native peoples. It’s part of a series of performances that I’ve been developing through tap dance and text, in which I explore and complicate narratives of Spanish and US colonialism, racial mixing and violence, and American popular traditions of dance and music.
On January 29, 2017, I presented the video Pánfilo de Narváez as part of the show Luna Loba: El Azufre at the AS220 Black Box, curated by Shey Rivera. This show, the fifth installment of the Luna Loba series, featured the work of 12 male-identified performers.
On December 9 and 10, Jacob Sacks and I presented our tap dance and piano duo project at Ibeam Brooklyn. We began collaborating in 2009. For these concerts, we played music by Thelonious Monk and original pieces+improvisations.
On November 2, at the AS220 Black Box, I presented The Interesting Narrative of Juan G. Knee-Heart, or An Island Minstrel, a solo tap dance performance with speech, music, and projections. This piece tells the story of a native of South America in the early years of the Spanish conquest, forcibly removed to an island in the Caribbean and left to gather information about the island and its inhabitants. I draw from Spanish chronicles and missionary texts, captivity narratives, and slave and native autobiographies.
I had the opportunity to participate in the nationwide theater initiative The One-Minute Play Festival: Every 28 Hours and Our Response. Presented at Trinity Repertory Company on October 18, Our Response was a series of one-minute plays centered on issues of race, violence, and representation, and serving as a supplement/response to pieces first developed in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police killing of Michael Brown.
I acted in some of these pieces and also wrote one of the plays performed that night, Scoop & Toss, a comment on the PROMESA Act and the US financial oversight board recently installed in power in Puerto Rico.
On October 14-16, at the Southside Cultural Center, Arte Latino of New England premiered La Jaula de las Locas. The play was directed by Maritza Martell and adapted into Spanish (from the movie The Birdcage) by Saúl Ramos. I played the role of Valentino and did the choreography.
On October 8, I performed a tap dance set at the Providence gallery and venue 186 Carpenter Street. I was invited by the band the Relatives (Katie Vogel + Ian McClellan Davis) as part of their residency there.
During the summer (2016), I played Romeo in Trinity Repertory Company’s bilingual production of Romeo & Juliet, adapted by Saúl Ramos and directed by Tyler Dobrowski. The show, a collaboration with Rhode Island Latino Arts, was the inaugural production of Trinity’s program Shakespeare en el Verano. We performed throughout July at public parks and libraries around Providence, at the Southside Cultural Center, at the Temple to Music, and at Providence WaterFire.
Here are 3 interviews about the project:
On June 4, 2016, I tap danced and played drums at the Providence Public Library as part of the RI Latino Arts presentation at PVD Fest, with the performers Kufa Castro and Marleny Luna.