jakub | February 2, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | ICONS 2: Raymundo ‘Ray’ Barretto Pagán

American Theatre and the Classical Theatre of Harlem present ICONS, co-produced with Venus Radio Theatre.

ICONS is a podcast series of personal monologues based on figures from the Harlem Renaissance, curated and directed by CTH’s literary director, Shawn Rene Graham, and developed by the Classical Theatre of Harlem in partnership with Venus Radio Theater. The first season of ICONS focused on five Black women whose artistic work was central to the vibrant Harlem Renaissance. The second season focuses on Hispanic and Latinx voices. ICONS 2: El Barrio Lives! explores the rich history of East Harle by commissioning four writers of Latinx descent to breathe life into lesser known figures from Latin America and the Caribbean, whose impact on the Harlem community from the early part of the 20th century resonates today.

This episode: Super Barretto by Nelson Diaz-Marcano, performed by Hiram Delgado, which imagines an interview with the Puerto Rican percussionist and bandleader of the 1960s.

Raymundo “Ray” Barretto Pagán (April 29, 1929-Feb. 17, 2006) was an American percussionist and bandleader of Puerto Rican descent. Throughout his career as a percussionist, he played a wide variety of Latin music styles, as well as Latin jazz. His first hit, “El Watusi,” was recorded by his Charanga Moderna in 1962, becoming the most successful pachanga song in the United States. In the late ’60s, Barretto became one of the leading exponents of boogaloo and what would later be known as salsa. A master of the descarga (improvised jam session), Barretto was a long-time member of the Fania All-Stars. His success continued into the 1970s with songs such as “Cocinando” and “Indestructible.” His last album for Fania Records, Soy dichoso, was released in 1990. He then formed the New World Spirit jazz ensemble and continued to tour and record until his death in 2006.

Nelson Diaz-Marcano is a Puerto Rican NYC-based theatremaker, advocate, and community leader. His plays have been developed by Pipeline Theatre Company, Clubbed Thumb, The Lark, Vision Latino Theater Company, The Orchard Project, The William Inge Theatre Festival, Classical Theatre of Harlem, and The Parsnip Ship among others. He currently serves as the literary director of the Latinx Playwright Circle.

Hiram Delgado is a Puerto Rican and Cuban actor and writer. He studied acting at the University of Puerto Rico and got his MFA at New York University’s Graduate Acting program. He is a member of SOCIETY Theatre Company. He has appeared on TV and film and in various productions on and off- Broadway. He currently resides in Queens.

ICONS was adapted, produced, and edited for Audio Theater by Eric Emma and features sound design and mixing by Andy Stein. Listen to season one of ICONS: Harlem Renaissance in Motion on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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