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San Juan Municipality Puts On A Show Or Two

Costumed actors reenacting scenes from centuries ago and theater for children are part of a program to attract visitors to Old San Juan

by Lida Estela Ruaño

June 15, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t be surprised if you see Puerto Rico’s first governor, Juan Ponce de Leon, welcoming you to Old San Juan on a Saturday afternoon.

As a part of its program to attract visitors to the old city, the municipal government has a troupe of actors dressed in period clothes who reenact vignettes that portray life in the city several centuries ago.

And on every other Sunday, theater for children is presented at the Plaza San Jose from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to watching a puppet show, children are taught how to make traditional carnival masks.

Terestella Gonzalez Denton, tourism director for the municipality, said the reenactment program was started on May 20 with 20 actors from Teatro Coribantes, directed by Rafael Rojas. The ninety-minute shows begin at 4 p.m. on Saturdays at the Plaza Arturo Somohano, behind the Tapia Theater. "We usually start with about 40 spectators and end up with about 150, who follow the troupe throughout the city," Gonzalez Denton said.

While some of the actors walk with the group, others get be ready for their next presentation. The result is that visitors are bound to meet up with costumed men and women who look very much in place in the five-century-old city.

Gonzalez Denton added the idea was to relive the old city’s history as well as the island’s tradition and culture. Reenactments include genuine cockfights, women gossiping about a neighbor being knifed (followed by a plena called Mataron a Elena or They Killed Elena), a baquine or infant’s burial, women teaching the art of using a fan, and a newspaper vendor selling La Gazeta or The Gazzette–one of the first local publications.

Gustavo Velez, head of business promotions at the municipal economic development and tourism department, said the department is considering the presentation of the show on Gastronomic Nights, held the last Wednesday of each month. Gonzalez Denton said the municipality also sponsoring the children’s show on alternate Sunday afternoons from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., one week at the Plazita del Condado and the next at Plaza San Jose in Old San Juan.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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