Los Medrano, a love story on stage

TRAJECTORY. Hugo and Rebecca Medrano have more than four decades of artistic experience in the United States. | Photo: Dubraska Vale.

Hugo and Rebecca Medrano, co-founders of the GALA Hispanic Theater, have dedicated their lives to promoting Latino arts and cultures to a diverse audience, developing and producing works that explore the breadth of the performing arts.

His desire is to preserve the rich Hispanic heritage for future generations. Since 1976, GALA has presented nearly 300 bilingual productions of classic, contemporary and experimental works; has promoted work among established and emerging multicultural and Latino artists.

They also maintain free education programs for multicultural youth at GALA: they offer bilingual theater to children and make acting in Spanish accessible to more than 9,000 youth from low-income families each year.

The faces of the Medrano family reflect the traces of decades of work to enhance the Latin performing arts in the Anglo-Saxon world, and their smiles mark the satisfaction of a duty fulfilled, but not completed. At least that’s how they feel it season to season.

CULTURE. Staging of the play Yerma, by Federico García Lorca, by GALA. | File Photo: EFE / Eddie Arrossi.

History

Hugo and Rebecca have a life together and share a love for the stage. Their story began in 1974, when they met on the arrival of Hugo from Spain, where he lived for a time after leaving his native Argentina as a young man.

An actor by passion, profession and commitment, he found in Rebecca, the administrative assistant of a small children’s theater, the perfect accomplice to promote what was the most innovative idea of ​​the 70s in Washington, DC, in terms of culture: a space dedicated to Hispanic art and for Hispanics.

“Our goal was to make artistic productions that represent the quality of Hispanic-American art because theater is born when there is a need to express ideas and maintain a culture,” Hugo told El Tiempo Latino in an interview conducted in 2015. Since then, no has stopped and remains active in the world of the arts.

Hugo-Medrano
PUBLIC. In its early days, GALA had a large community of exiles from Argentina, Chile, Peru and other countries, Hugo said. | Photo: screenshot.

He added: “In that sense, Washington was a virgin; We had a large community of exiles from Argentina, Chile, Peru and other countries, and it was an ideal type of audience for the theater because they had a high cultural level and eager to maintain their cultural heritage ”.

In that environment of artistic need that Hugo Medrano spoke about, the Latin American Artists Group (GALA) was born in 1976, when the non-profit organization staged its first production: “La Fiaca”, by Argentine Ricardo Talesnik, as part of the Hispanic American Festival.

Rebecca noted that in only four presentations they received more than 1,200 viewers, and The Washington Post dedicated six columns to them on one of its pages. For more than four decades, he has worked to promote and share the richness of Latino art and culture. Additionally, she has been GALA’s CEO and primary fundraiser since 1976.

Rebecca Medrano
RECOGNITION. Rebecca received the Alan Cooper Award for Leadership in 2020. | Photo: screenshot.

Under Rebecca’s leadership, GALA created programming designed to engage the youth of Washington, DC, including Paso Nuevo and the GALita Children’s Theater. Deeply rooted in the community, she has cultivated partnerships with other arts organizations and social service agencies throughout the city, including Washington Performing Arts, InSeries, Carlos Rosario Adult Education Center, Mary’s Center, VIDA Senior Center, and the Latin American Youth Center, among others.

International exchanges have also been established with theaters in Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina.

Acknowledgments

Among the recognitions Hugo has received are the Immigrant Achievement Award from the American Immigration Council, and the DC Mayor’s Award for Visionary in 2014; Washingtonian of the Year in 2011; the Order of Queen Isabel of King Carlos I of Spain, for promoting Spanish culture in the United States; and the DC Mayor’s Award for Artistic Excellence in 1989.

While Rebecca has achieved the DC Mayor’s Award for the Arts in 2006, Washingtonian of the Year in 2010, the DC Mayor’s Award for the Arts as Visionary in 2014, the Order of Queen Elizabeth of King Carlos I of Spain. , the 2015 Washington Women’s Excellence Award and the 2020 Alan Cooper Leadership Award. She is also on the Latino Council of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.



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