A Dominican-American playwright is trying to change the theater industry with the introduction of his production company. Actor Rafael Moreno says the lack of roles for Latino and other actors of color are gradually changing, but adds that there still require a demand for change and more representation. In response, he created his own theater body called Construct Theater Company, where he will aim to challenge the status quo, he said.
“I founded Construct with the mission to write, direct, and produce original works that tell the kinds of stories that continue to elude the main stage, especially those concerning culturally diverse communities,” said Moreno.
With his entity he plans to help emerge a new kind of visibility for people of color in the industry and showcase the talent that has yet to find a stage to strive.
“The whole idea has always been to introduce a new and emerging audience to the theater, by creating a platform where their voices and concerns are being echoed,” he added.
Moreno studied theater at Stony Brook University. He also moved to Los Angeles and lived there for some time as he pursued careers working with Sony, Warner Brothers, and CBS, while also working on his individual projects.
He recalls the experience as an eye-opening one, that only pushed him further to create Construct. Because what he saw was not what he previously envisioned.
“What l learned in those years was pretty invaluable — if I wanted to see more stories with people like myself, about people like myself, I was going to have to do it myself,” said Moreno.
He returned to New York City to start the company because he feels the city offers a higher level of respect for theater, and has the quality of actors to support it.
Without theater Moreno would have found himself in the wrong crosshairs of life, but theater and his company saved him from spiraling into that world. And he wants it to be the place where other aspiring creatives can turn to, as a haven to produce their work.
“I want to make Construct a brick and mortar place where artists come and develop,” said Moreno. “I can honestly say had it not been for theater, I may have been dead or in jail — so I know the type of power art has.”
His focus currently is raising awareness about the way the film and theater industry works, while also creating plays that will give actors of color a chance to shine.
“Because I’m an activist this is what I found is that was one of the best ways to get point across in the best way possible and to get our people involved,” said Moreno. “I got tired of having conversations and I want to get people to a point of understanding on both sides and explain what our struggle is.”
He remains optimistic as he prepares to debut his first full-length play, “Fotos,” which will premiere in February 2018. Times are changing, but not at a speed they should, said Moreno.
“It’s not that things aren’t getting better than how they were before — they’re just not getting better fast enough,” he added. “Construct was my way of fast-tracking my own artistic development, as well as creating opportunities for other actors and writers like me to have their voices heard.”