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Rose Cano Crosses Language Barriers To Bring Theatre To The People

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Seattle Times Photo/Erika Schultz

Rose Cano is a social worker in the broadest sense. By day, Cano translates for Spanish-speaking people with health care needs. But Cano's true social platform is theater. She envisions a society where live drama is accessible and in demand by everyone. And she devotes her time outside the office to making that happen.

Cano is the founder and Artistic Director of Seattle's eSe Teatro. It's a bilingual company made up of professional theater artists, students and community members. This month the company observes Hispanic Heritage month with a performance of Cano's original take on Cervantes' "Don Quixote" at ACT Theatre. Cano's play is called "Don Quixote and Sancho Panza: Homeless in Seattle."

Like all of eSe's productions, "Don Quixote and Sancho Panza" is bilingual, performed in a mix of Spanish, English and Spanglish. Cano wanted it to address homelessness in the local Hispanic community, so she invited local homeless people to come watch a workshop performance to give their input.

A couple of years back, Cano took eSe's production of "Electricidad," a modern take on the Greek tragedy "Electra," to the South Park neighborhood, where she involved several teenage gang members in the rehearsal process. Then the company performed the play for at the community center, inviting the teens, their families and any interested neighborhood residents to a free show.

eSe Teatro has found a performance home at ACT Theatre's Central Heating Lab, an umbrella program for small theater and arts groups. But Rose Cano is committed to taking her theater company beyond the traditional local arts venues. She says they can intimidate people who aren't used to attending mainstream arts performances, and that's the audience Cano hopes to bring into her big tent.

This series, "13 for '13" is in partnership with the Seattle Timesand profiles 13 members of the Seattle-area’s diverse cultural community; people who have had an impact and are poised to shape the cultural landscape in the decade to come.

Read a related story in the Seattle Times.

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