Caza Teatro, a bilingual theater group showcasing Latino talent in Memphis
The organization has survived COVID-19 with virtual events, but looks forward to getting back in person with their community.
Latinos make up 7.2% of the population in Memphis, Tennessee, and as a result, still have trouble gaining recognition and acceptance from others in their community.
One organization that has been helping local Latino actors and performers ignite their talent and create lifelong bonds is Caza Teatro, a bilingual community theatre in the Memphis area.
Caza Teatro, a nonprofit organization, was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but managed to stay strong and support one another by offering free virtual plays and shows for locals.
The modest theatre company will be offering a number of their traditional shows and pop-up events in the upcoming months.
Dorimar Ferrer, the executive director at Caza Teatro admits that it was a difficult decision to move online, but a necessary one for the organization.
“There are not a lot of Latino actors in Memphis, so it was important to have the whole community come together, even if they are not Latino,” Ferrer said in a recent interview with AL DIA News.
Ferrer, who hails from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, came to Memphis 14 years ago, and found herself in awe of the diversity and different cultures present in the city.
It’s a mix that has launched her own career.
“I love Memphis, it is huge in culture, history, and movement,” she said. “Memphis gave me the opportunity to share my culture and educate.”
Since then, Ferrer has been involved in setting up different events to highlight Latin customs as part of Caza Teatro since 2011.
Although in-person shows have ceased for now, each production scheduled for the season will be offered online and also live on stage with all the safety protocols in place.
“We just want everyone to be safe,” she said.
Ferrer is also hoping to teach her community about health and safety through online videos.
“We have virtual career days and sometimes we have pediatricians and dentists take videos with us to educate children on how important it is to take care of yourself,” said Ferrer.
Her and her staff of volunteer actors also produce a series called Bedtime stories with Abuela Tomasa, featuring a character who speaks with children in English and Spanish that emphasizes the importance of reading.
Abuela Tomasa also often teaches children about life lessons and the importance of love, family, and community. The series airs every Tuesday on Facebook at 7 p.m.
“This is a show that parents and their children can see and be a part of,” she said.
Other virtual events offered by Caza Teatro include Afro-Latino week — a virtual workshop where locals learned about Afro-Latino leaders like Celia Cruz, Sylvia Del Villard, and Juano Hernandez, who were all trendsetters in Latino History.
“These events help the community come together and learn from one another,” said Ferrer.
She recently announced that their annual Latin Festival will be held in September, and it has been a long-awaited event for locals.
Another with lots of anticipation is their Day of the Dead Parade, a Mexican tradition to honor the family members who have passed away. Instead of being somber, people often celebrate by wearing elaborate and colorful apparel, painting their faces, dancing, and commemorating the lives of their loved ones.
That event will now take place on Oct. 23, 2021.
Since restrictions are being lifted for most cities, Ferrer and her staff hope that the community will be able to engage with one another once again. For them, they are not just neighbors, they are more like family.
“This is more than community theater, I love that we get to educate one another and show people how we need to be together, no matter what your language is,” she said.
To learn more about Caza Teatro check out their website.