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Highly acclaimed play celebrates poet Pablo Neruda

March 7, 2005

Image of the poster for "Poeta Pan"SFSU's Teatro Arcoiris or Rainbow Theatre is presenting "Poeta Pan," a multidisciplinary theatre piece that celebrates the life and work of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. It will run March 10-12 at the Little Theatre in the Creative Arts Building.

The play, created by theatre arts Professor and Chile native Carlos Barón, performed to sold-out crowds at San Francisco's Dance Mission last year. In January, the group traveled to Chile with support from SFSU; University of Illinois, Chicago; the Chilean government; and three Chilean universities. After a successful three-week tour in Chile, where the cast performed in Santiago, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar and several other locations on the Central Coast, the cast of "Poeta Pan" will bring the brilliance of Neruda back to San Francisco.

The group was surprised at the reaction that they received from the Chilean audience.

"We had men come up to us after the show in tears, telling us how important it is for people like us -- we're a bunch of gringos out of nowhere -- coming up to this country talking to them about this man who made such a difference in their culture, in their life," actor Aileen Clark said. "Seeing emotions like that on other people and the fact that you help create those emotions -- it's really hard core."

Barón said two words describe the project -- collaboration and challenge.

"There is a typical quality of academia that we get so busy with our classes, majors, departments and defending 'territory,' that we don't realize the possibilities that exist [in collaborating between departments,]" he said.

"Poeta Pan" is a collaborative effort between the Theatre Arts Department and the School of Music and Dance. Barón's intention was to create a nontraditional piece that stretches across various artistic disciplines and challenges both the cast and audience. The multi talented cast sings and dances to live music by music Lecturer John Calloway and choreography by dance Lecturer Wendy Diamond. The play also incorporates shadow theatre, the manipulation of light and shadows as a form of expression.

Barón wrote the play in celebration of Neruda's 100th anniversary last year.

"Why Neruda? It's beautiful poetry -- accessible and a voice of reason and peace in the midst of war atmosphere that exists today," Barón said. "I want the audience to take away a sense of hope, the sense of collaboration that took place here, the sense that it is possible to do things in lean times."

Teatro Arcoiris is a Theatre Arts workshop taught by Barón, who led the class for more than 12 years. Teatro Arcoiris performs off campus and represents the multiethnic and multicultural community of SFSU. Cultures and nationalities represented among the actors, musicians, technicians and designers in this production include Chilean, Caucasian and Filipino.

Performances of "Poeta Pan" are at 8 p.m. March 10-11 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on March 12. Tickets are $5. The bilingual production is performed in English and Spanish. Headphones will be provided for non-Spanish speaking audiences.

For tickets and directions, contact the Creative Arts Box Office at (415) 338-2367 or visit the College of Creative Arts Web site.

-- Student Writer Audrey Tang with Matt Itelson
Image: design by Sue Matthews; concept by Carlos Barón


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Last modified March 9, 2005 by University Communications