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The Theatre Scene is Alive and Growing in Panama

By Amanda Sides in Coronado

Earning a BA in English and theatre solidified my love of the art, but my fascination had started long before that. Giving up my acting projects and great theatre productions was one of the hardest parts of leaving the States two years ago; Denver, where I had spent about three years, has a great local film scene and dozens of wonderful theatre companies. I didn’t expect to be able to fill that hole in South or Central America.

Panama surprised me again.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a production of Proof (if you’re not a theatre junkie, you might know this as the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow) as performed by the Boquete Community Players. This theatre company produces several plays every year in Boquete. This is the first time they have come to the beach area, thanks to the Panama and Cocle Theatre Company (PaCT), who brought the show on the road. In Boquete, BCP has their very own theater; in Coronado, the play was presented by Picasso Bar & Restaurante (although PaCT is at work building their own theater, too). We were served sangria and a fantastic tapas menu and enjoyed the show from our front-row table.

I haven’t spent a lot of time in the city as of yet, but I’m impressed by what I hear about it, theatre-wise. The Theatre Guild of Ancon is an English-language company that did five shows this year — we’re coming up on Rocky Horror Picture Show in October! My boyfriend doesn’t like musicals (and I have to take them on a case-by-case basis), but I’m hoping he’ll make an exception for this one and go with me. There are several other theaters doing Spanish-language productions (I once saw a billboard for Legalmente Rubia, the musical).

What’s got me the most excited right now is the opportunity to participate with PaCT. They have a five-show season planned, including their fourth original play written by Rob Brown, PaCT’s artistic director. This show will also be performed at Picasso at the end of the year. I’m thrilled about maybe getting to perform again — I think that to be able to bring a play to life for all the new friends I’ve made in Coronado is an extra special experience.

I know most of the people who were involved with PaCT’s last play (an original musical!). I didn’t get to see it, as it was performed before I had arrived in Panama, but people still talk about it! Several of the performers had never acted before, and had never imagined they would. As if moving to Panama isn’t out of the comfort zone enough — now you’re getting on stage! Everyone I’ve talked to about it said it was a fantastic experience and they’re looking forward to the next one. It takes me back to my college and summer stock theatre days — low budgets, good friends, teamwork and innovation, and lots of hard work to bring the project together. I love that camaraderie and to see people challenge themselves creatively.

Panama is proving itself to be a great supporter of the performing arts: between the theatre, the International Film Festival that was held a few months ago, smaller film festivals that pop up in the city now and again, and a recent visit from Cirque du Soleil — one of the biggest things I missed from home has joined me here, after all.

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