Actors in brightly colored costumes prepare for a dress rehearsal of Crearte Latino’s second performance “Quien Ayuda a Burbujita,” which, in English, translates to “Who Will Help the Little Bubble?” The troupe doesn’t have a designated theater or a space where it can practice, but it does have a love for entertaining and performing.
Tonight rain pours down on Sarasota, and the actors plans of practicing in actress Erica Alarcon’s backyard have fallen through. They move tables and chairs to the edges of her small porch and prepare to rehearse. Actors chatter in Spanish, practice lines, apply rainbows of colorful makeup and go quiet when Crearte Latino founder and Director Alessandro Rossal calls for their attention. They close their eyes and listen to Rossal help them transform into acting mode. He tells them to get into character and bring themselves to magical land where the children’s play takes place.
The actors of Crearte Latino are immigrants from different corners of the Latin world and some have not performed since high school. But, under the direction of Rossal, who in 1998, graduated with a degree in acting from Universidad Popular, in Guatemala, the actors shine. In 2004, Rossal moved to New York City from Guatemala. He took a number of acting workshops in Queens, N.Y., and performed for family and friends at the end of them. He fell in love with theater when he saw his first play, “Los Arboles Mueren de Pie,” or “The Trees Die Standing,” as a child.
“Acting is something you have in your heart and in your blood,” Rossal says. “I hadn’t done this in a long time, but it feels like I never stopped.”
In 2009, Rossal moved to Sarasota. He wanted to raise his son, Sebastian, away from the chaos of the Big Apple, and he had family living in Sarasota.
Upon moving, Rossal searched for Spanish theater in the area.
“I always liked to see theater, and I always liked to see it in Spanish,” Rossal says. “I started searching for places to go, and I knew there might not be a place in Sarasota, so I looked in Tampa and Orlando, and they didn’t have it, either. The closest Spanish theater to Sarasota was in Miami. That’s when the idea came to me, that if there is nothing, why not try it?”
After taking a motivational workshop in 2012, Rossal was inspired to post a casting call on Facebook for the troupe’s first play, “La Remolienda,” a comedy about three men who end up falling in love with three bar girls on their first trip into the city. To his surprise, 15 people tried out for the show, which only had nine open acting slots.
“When I saw the post on Facebook, I was so excited. It was great opportunity,” said actress Norma Riquelme.
Rossal also advertised in Spanish newspapers and magazines in Sarasota and posted flyers in Spanish restaurants and stores. The comedy was a hit; about 500 people showed up to watch the first three shows.
“It was something that I always wanted to do, and it was very emotional because it was my first time directing and producing the whole thing,” Rossal says. “And it was the first time for some of the actors, so it felt very anxious the first day. We weren’t expecting that many people, and when we saw theater almost full that day we wanted to do more of it.”
The troupe’s next play, “Quien Ayuda a Burbujita,” is a children’s play about a princess who encounters a prince, villains and friends. Rossal says even if someone does not understand Spanish it is easy to follow the storyline. The actors practice 10 hours a week in each other’s homes and have formed close-knit friendships through the experience.
Gisella Tavara looks forward to rehearsal after work and says that after the first play, her acting talent impressed both her husband and children.
“With Alessandro’s workshops and practice, I realized that dreams are unlimited because he is making this happen,” Tavara says.
IF YOU GO
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, March 31
Where: Payne Park Auditorium
What: ‘Quien Ayuda a Burbujita’ or ‘Who Will Help the Little Bubble’
Cost: $10 adults $5 children