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Julian and Romero

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Alex Perez
August 19, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright/Director.

What is your show about?
Two young men in a Cuban UMAP prison fight all odds to keep their lives, sanity and hope for love of country, family and friendship.

Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born and raised going back and forth from North NJ and Queens, NY. Grew up in Union City NJ and studied theater, acting and dance all over the NYC area.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
Theater is collaboration. One cannot exist without the other. Including the technical aspects. It is the magic that happens when all components of the theatrical world collide that allows the work to take a life form of its own. Each factor is energy. Energy dispensed in different ways.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I wanted to give a voice to the thousands of victims that died in Castro's UMAP prisons of the late 1960's because they were considered 'different' from society. My grandfather died as a political prisoner under Castro's regime, discovering that he died of bayonet wounds drove me to investigate more about Cuba's government, history and ethics. This play is based on real accounts of survivor stories and a dark history in Cuba's past that was quickly forgotten as Castro decided to eradicate any proof that these UMAP prisons ever existed. And as of today, Castro continues to be a free man and no one has done anything about the genocide he orchestrated.

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Denzel Washington, Maggie Smith, Ang Lee, Audra McDonald?
Ang Lee. I believe he would be delighted to direct a film version of this story. It has a dark intensity surrounded by an unfortunate situation as a main theme, it carries interesting subplots with good thematic music, dance and he would incorporate beautiful visuals that can support these interesting characters with different objectives. Every character in the piece needs each other to survive, but they unfortunately have the opposite side to conflict with. There is quite a number of viewpoints and adversities and the audience is kept in on the development without knowing exactly where it's going to go. How much does someone risk for love? Do you choose family over faith? Do you choose country over family? Do you choose faith over country? Can you have all of it or nothing? It's heartbreaking to see the choices some characters make and then you wonder if those paths were worth it.

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
As long as there is storytelling, and people representative of those stories, then theater can exist. We need to see plays and musicals that represent not only all cultures, but the human experience. Our world is more and more globally connected, and it's important in this day and technological age, to be inclusive and all knowing of all of the world's issues. Hopefully, one theater piece at a time, we can solve these issues. I wrote Julian and Romero not as a Cuban story. But as a human rights story. It relates to us all and it is eerily similar to current legislation that is brutal against equality in Russia and other countries. This play can ask the audience what they will do to make a difference and understand those issues by seeing it performed by latino actors. But it can happen to anyone.