The Black-Latino Actors Studio brings diversity to Fort Collins’ theater community

Walker Discoe

Acting and theatrical performance is by nature a communal experience, and Tatmon believes it is important to extend the world of theater to include diversity so that all types of people are invited to a seat in the theater, and a role on stage.

Acting is a time-honored form of self-expression and social commentary that we humans have been using and exploring for several millennia. Now in the present, theater and acting are being used in new and interesting ways that allow previously marginalized voices in the art form to be utilized and appreciated. According to Quartz, performers on Broadway in the 2014-15 season were comprised of nearly 85 percent white performers, and only 3.5 percent of performers were Latino. Around the country, the lack of actors and actresses of color in theater productions is striking as well.

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But in Fort Collins, Michael Anthony Tatmon is on a mission to change the amount of representation in Northern Colorado’s acting community. Just this year, Tatmon founded The Black-Latino Actors Studio, an organization with the tagline “in living colored” and the hopes of both bringing attention to the work of minority actors and actresses in the community as well as fostering an appreciation and interest in the field of stage performance for young Black and Latino citizens.

…sometimes we need to take a moment and be grateful for the things that people did to put black people in the position that they are today.”– Michael Anthony Tatmon, founder of the Black-Latino Actors Studio.

“I know the difficulties of getting started in acting, and becoming a serious performer,” Tatmon said. “We are here to provide a resource, not only for getting Black, Latino, Asian, and minority actors and actresses on stage, but creating a place where people, especially young people, can come and learn about what we do and what performance is, because often young, minority, Black and Latino kids don’t ever see performance as something they can do.”

Tatmon himself spearheaded the first Black-Latino Actors Studio production, a one-man show about the life and work of late supreme court justice Thurgood Marshall titled “THURGOOD,” a major part of which details Marshall’s battle with the segregated school systems in 20th century America as well as his involvement with the landmark legal case Brown Vs. Board of Education.

“There’s so many parts of this play that bring out so much awareness and pain, just in my personal life,” Tatmon said in an online video. “My father (was) born in 1928 in the deep South, Jim Crow…(he) enlisted in the military when he was 16 years old in World War II. My mother (was) a teacher…had to deal with segregated schools, and my grandmother (grew) up without an education her entire career. So many things happened at that time in the South that made me who I am. I had very little understanding of where my parents had come from and where they had grown too, and maybe their frustrations at our generation’s lack of gratitude. Sometimes it’s too late to make amends, and sometimes we need to take a moment and be grateful for the things that people did to put Black people in the position that they are today.”

Tatmon’s performance of “THURGOOD” was certainly his moment to appreciate the rich history of Black bravery.

“What they had to go through,” Tatmon said. “On a daily basis, hourly basis, humiliation, upon humiliation, and they lived through it.”

Even with Tatmon’s current run of “THURGOOD” endingMarch 6 at the Bas Bleu theater, Tatmon looks to the future of guiding and organizing productions for The Black-Latino Actors Studio with excitement and anticipation. He’s glad to be helping to usher in a new chapter in Fort Collins’ acting community, getting minority kids involved with their local theater companies and becoming performers. Tatmon refers to minority children as the “future” of acting, and is glad to see just how many opportunities he can offer to the actors of today, as well as the performers of tomorrow.

Acting and theatrical performance is by nature a communal experience, and Tatmon believes it is important to extend the world of theater to include diversity so that all types of people are invited to a seat in the theatre, and a role on stage.

Walker Discoe can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @wdiscoe

 

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