Late last month, I received this media release from Jon Marcantoni, a very talented writer who used to write for Latino Rebels back in the day and is now doing some really interesting work out in Denver.
DENVER — Award-winning novelist and playwright Jon Marcantoni has launched a new theatre company dedicated to Puerto Rican stories, Flamboyán Theatre. Mr. Marcantoni began developing the idea for the company following the success of his play "Puerto Rican Nocturne," which premiered in Denver at the historic Bug Theatre in August 2022.
"Over 60% of our audience were Puerto Ricans, and the response was ecstatic. Many audience members said they had not attended any theatrical events previously because of the lack of stories about and for us," Mr. Marcantoni stated.
According to the Census Bureau, Puerto Ricans make up the second-largest Latino group in Colorado. Flamboyán seeks to make Denver a home for Boricua storytelling that crosses genres and multimedia platforms and pushes artists to tell stories that defy expectations, as well as taking risks in terms of style and themes and creating new narratives. Mr. Marcantoni sees the opportunity for growth as the community lacks a cultural center that could galvanize Puerto Rican cultural and spending power. Flamboyán wants to be a safe space for the community to celebrate puertorriqueñidad and teach the Denver area about our history and culture.
Flamboyán has partnered with Raíces Brewing Company, a Puerto Rican-owned brewery in Denver, which will provide its space to the theatre for auditions, rehearsals, and events. Mr. Marcantoni has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for its 2024 project, which includes a play about Julia de Burgos, another about the experience of being a Puerto Rican in the Navy, and the Emerging Playwrights Project, which had a pilot program in 2023, and will mentor Puerto Rican writers on the business and creative side of theatre, teaching them the tools of how to produce their own works.
Emerging Playwrights Project 2024 will be virtual, and the three playwrights will be paired with celebrated and established playwrights Cristina A. Bejan, Bryan-Keyth Wilson, and Matt Barbot. The theme for this year's is "Western Boricuas: Stories from Puerto Ricans West of the Mississippi." Mr. Marcantoni hopes this series will shed light on a diasporic experience that few know about and begin a dialogue between West Coast Boricuas and their East Coast and island-based cousins. The series will end with a special event at Raíces Brewing Company showcasing the writers' work along with a panel discussing the Puerto Rican experience in the Mountain West.
The GoFundMe campaign will help pay mentors and writers for the Emerging Playwrights Project, compensate actors for the two play productions —which will first be made into radio plays— and pursue a permanent location for the company.
"We need to bring Puerto Ricans of all backgrounds together in order for this project to succeed," Mr. Marcantoni said. "As our community spreads out, we run the risk of severing our connection, and becoming diasporas within diasporas, increasing our isolation and threatening the preservation of our culture. The time is now for unity, to see Puerto Ricans, no matter where they were born, as one people. Together, we will make the future of the Puerto Rican nation strong and enduring."
To donate to Flamboyán, visit their Go Fund Me Campaign which includes exciting and interactive sponsorship packages.
To learn more about the Emerging Playwrights Project, visit their website.
Read more about Mr. Marcantoni's mission to highlight stories of the Puerto Rican diaspora here.
Follow Flamboyán on IG @flamboyan_theater.