‘American Dreamer’ performance presented Oct. 20 in Flagstaff

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As part of is annual Celebraciones de la Gente program, Flagstaff Nuestras Raíces presented “American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Raul H. Castro,” on Oct. 20, 2012 at Coconino High School.

The full-length, original play inspired by the life of former Arizona Gov. Raul H. Castro, was written by Phoenix-based playwright James E. Garcia, who performed the lead role. The play was produced by New Carpa Theatre Co.

“Because Gov. Castro’s life story is an inherently dramatic, touching and funny, this play practically wrote itself,” James E. Garcia, producing artistic director of New Carpa Theatre and the play’s author, stated in a media release. Garcia noted that Castro was a boxer, teacher, hobo, lawyer, prosecuting attorney, judge, U.S. Ambassador to three countries and Arizona’s only ever Hispanic governor. “Those are all major accomplishments worth writing about, but it’s really the power of his personality that makes this such a compelling play. His natural charisma aside, this is a man who always found away to overcome virtually any obstacle that came his way. As such, he’s a great inspiration.”

The show features eight actors in more than 55 roles in a story that spans about 60 years of Castro’s life. Castro is now 96 years old and living in Nogales, AZ. The play was written in 2008, said Garcia, but the script was updated and expanded in time for Arizona’s centennial anniversary.

“I knew I wanted to stage a show this year that tied in with the state’s Centennial celebration,” Garcia said. “So when Nuestras Raices asked me to bring a show to Flagstaff, I knew it had to be American Dreamer – partly because the governor graduated from NAU and partly because Mr. Castro has been alive almost as long as Arizona has been a state.”

The program was introduced by Patricia Garcia, a member of Flagstaff Nuestras Raíces, who brought the play to the attention of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors; Dr. Robert Breunig, director of the Museum of Northern Arizona, which will host the annual Celebraciones de la Gente on Oct. 27-28; and Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Archuleta, District 2 Supervisor.

The production was sponsored by the Coconino County Supervisors Archuleta, Mandy Metzger and Matt Ryan.

Performers included James E. Garcia (as Raul H. Castro), Mike Rolfe (as Gov. George W.P. Hunt and Rawhide Jim), Arturo Anthony Martinez (Alfredo Gutierrez), Kyswam Diggs (William ‘Willie’ Brennan Jefferson II), Deborah Weissman Ostreicher (Pat Castro), Phillip Nikola (Jimmy Carter), and Kathryn James (Rosario ‘Acosta’ Castro).

The play will next be staged in Phoenix, Oct. 26-28, at Playhouse on the Park, and in Nogales at Nogales High School on Nov. 4. For more information about performances of American Dreamer, visit www.newcarpa.org

Photos by Frank X. Moraga / Shooting Star Communications LLC ©2012