Student-actor Ebrahim “Abe” Rasheed has practically become the face of the Hostos Repertory Company, the theatrical troupe at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College. After captivating audiences with his performances as “Max Forrestal” in Song of Extinction by EM Lewis and “Jules” in boom! by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, he made a great impression at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last summer with his charismatic portrayal of “Chet” in Rough Magic by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
Taking on a new theatrical assignment this spring, Rasheed will be the first student in the Hostos Rep’s 30-year history to direct a full-scale production. With the guidance of Rep Artistic Director Ángel Morales, he will stage Welcome to Arroyo’s, a play by 2010 Pulitzer Prize-finalist Kristoffer Díaz.
Welcome to Arroyo’s will be performed at the Hostos Repertory Theater at the Hostos Center for the Arts, 450 Grand Concourse (at 149th Street) in the Bronx on April 24 and 25 at 7:00 p.m.; April 30 at 2:00 p.m.; and May 1 at 12:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Tickets for the general public are $10 and are available through the Center box office, which is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and two hours prior to performance. Tickets are also available by calling (718) 518-4455, and through www.hostos.cuny.edu/culturearts.
Professor Morales chose this production to honor the 40th anniversary of Hip-Hop, the urban music and cultural movement that originated in the Bronx.
“Abe is one of those gifted students who stand out in class,” Professor Morales said. “He came to Hostos from the Bronx Theater High School, where he was the youngest member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, which is one of the most important improvisation companies in New York City. That semester I cast him in two productions: Six Degrees of Separation and No Child. I immediately knew that great things were ahead for Abe.”
When Rasheed performed with the Hostos Repertory Company at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2010, he was a Region 1 semifinalist in the Irene Ryan acting competition and won the Voice & Speech Trainers Association (VASTA) award.
Now completing his second year in the liberal arts program at Hostos, Rasheed says the transition from actor to director is something he both fears and embraces. “At this point in my artistic journey, I can say I am a fearless actor. However, my anxieties as a director have me scared out of my mind. The prospect of my directorial work being surrendered to the universe on opening night has me shaking in my boots,” said Rasheed.
Having worked with Rasheed on five productions, Professor Morales is confident that he is ready for another type of artistic challenge.
“It’s been an amazing journey of growth and realization with Abe, and because of it I feel blessed. After all his accomplishments and training at Hostos, I feel that Abe is ready to take on the major responsibility of directing a show for the College. He has developed a wonderful relationship with the student cast and production team. It is a joy to watch him direct and put into practice what he has learned from the previous five productions with us,” said Professor Morales.
The Dramatists Play Service summarizes Welcome to Arroyo’s plot as follows: Alejandro Arroyo owns the newest (and cleanest) lounge in New York City’s Lower East Side. His sister, Molly, has a nasty habit of writing graffiti on the back wall of the local police precinct. Officer Derek is a recent NYC transplant with something to prove. Lelly Santiago is a socially awkward college student who may have discovered that the Arroyo siblings’ late mother was one of the founders of hip-hop music. Two DJs/narrators/Greek chorus members spin the story in this hip-hop theater coming-of-age story.
Here are some of the rave reviews WELCOME TO ARROYO’S received in 2010:
“The playwright Kristoffer Díaz creates a space for all audiences, young or old, of any color, to kick back and play.” — LA Times
“Sometimes you can believe the hype…the play blends streetwise exuberance with deep melancholy undercurrents.” — Time Out NY
“A personal, charming, clever play with a hip-hop bent…this work demonstrates a genuinely honest voice, an energetic, playful theatricality…solid storytelling rooted in character.” —Variety
“An urban comedy that dares to place women at the birth of modern-day hip-hop.” —NewcityStage.com
About Hostos Repertory Company
The award-winning Hostos Repertory Company (Hostos Rep) is the resident theater troupe of the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture. An initiative of the Hostos Community College Humanities Department, the company casts students, faculty, staff, and professional artists.
The Hostos Repertory Theater was the only community college from North America and Canada to have performed in the 2013 installment of the prestigious Edinburg Festival Fringe. The Hostos Rep brought Rough Magic by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to Scotland and sold-out all their shows.
About the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture
Now in its 31st season, the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture serves the cultural needs of residents of the South Bronx and similar inner-city communities who do not have the means or the inclination to attend arts events in mid-town Manhattan. In so doing, the Hostos Center strives to create forums in which the cultural heritages of its audiences – especially Latinos and African-Americans – are affirmed and nurtured. Its patrons, however, come from all over the metropolitan area, making the Center an arts institution of regional importance that is enjoyed by diverse and discerning audiences. In its state-of-the-art facilities (a museum-grade art gallery and two theaters of 900 and 367 seats each) on the campus of Hostos Community College/CUNY, the Hostos Center presents renowned visual and performing artists of as well as local professional artists. The Center’s programming consists of a performing arts presenting series; a visual arts exhibiting series; periodic festivals featuring different cultural traditions; the Hostos Repertory Company; a children’s performing arts series; and an individual artists’ program consisting of commissions and residencies.
About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique “Student Success Coaching Unit” provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.
Hostos offers 29 associate degree programs and five certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.