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Miriam Colon (1936 – 2017)

Miriam Colon, 1962 (Public domain)

from Roger Cunningham

Founder of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, Miriam is an icon in the Hispanic Community, and especially in the Bronx.  In the mid-70s, I worked with Miriam and was the front man for her summer tours throughout the 5 boroughs and especially in the Bronx.  It was the time of the Bronx is Burning and Fort Apache, the Bronx, and being a red-haired, blue-eyed boy from the farm walking down these mean streets promoting Spanish Language Free Street Theatre was an experience.

Miriam Colon went on to build the first Puerto Rican Theatre on Broadway by renovating a Firehouse on West 47th Street and 8th Avenue.  I was active in securing corporate contributions.

For more information, see Miriam’s obituary from the NY Times which notes that she

“worked on the New York stage from the beginning of her career and, in 1967, founded the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, with the goal of bringing free bilingual theater to all parts of the city. In 1993 she received an Obie Award for lifetime achievement in Off Broadway theater. In 2015 President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts.”

“Ms. Colón was a vocal advocate of both funding for the arts and personal self-reliance, as she explained in a 1992 article in The New York Times about overcoming her troupe’s financial difficulties (including a New York State cut in financing) that year.

“I’m not saying the government shouldn’t support us,” she was quoted as saying. “They should. We are just as entitled to that money as the people who build roads.

“But we must not count on it. Through no fault of our own, it can vanish.”



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