Episode 48 | Jorge Merced, Actor, Activist, Associate Artistic Director Pregones/PRTT

Episode 48 Jorge Merced.jpg

An actor prepares…

After a ten-year hiatus, Jorge Merced returns to reprise the role of “Loca” la de la Locura in El Bolero Fue Mi Ruina - El Bolero Was My Downfall - the brave character created by Puerto Rican author Manuel Ramos Otero.

In a nutshell, I would say the play is a confession of sorts, an admission of actions of sins based on love, desperation, defeat, marginalization, and the universal innate need of all human hearts to feel acknowledged and respected. Loca, is a tragic story but also a heroic one.

I first saw Jorge perform this show 20 years ago at Pregones’ black box theater. The play opens June 1st, marking Jorge’s 20th anniversary with the show and his 30 years of histrionics and leadership with Pregones, now Pregones / Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.

Jorge has been part of the gay rights movement for years and our conversation here stretches out to explain how the text came to him, how he began performing it as a way to stand for queer voices, what Ramon Ramos Otero signifies for Spanish queer literature today, and how he prepared to revise and reimagine this tale for today.

Jorge is an exceptional actor and performer with an uncanny ability to deliver character dialogue in perfect synchronicity with live music. It’s as if he were an Olympic surfer riding the perfect wave that could crash at any second, only that just like the great surfer, he’s somehow always ahead of it, and comes out standing.    

This new staging of El Bolero Was My Downfall is in English, and we also talked about the translation work and how some things cannot be translated but communicated in action. And so, Jorge and the cast prepared, and they're for you.

P.S. - Hostos50 Oral Collective continued. Van Tran, alumnus ‘91, Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. He and his family came to New York City as refugees from Vietnam, and the story of his journey is as timely as ever. The power of education is real and access is imperative.

Soldanela Rivera