Originally from Comerío, Puerto Rico, it was her graduate studies at CUNY Graduate Center that brought Rosalba Rolón to the city.
She eventually went on to be founder and artistic director of Pregones Theater Company, which is based in the Bronx and mainly focuses on telling the stories of Latino people that would otherwise be swept under the rug.
One of these stories is captured in the company’s musical “TORCHED!,” which will make its off-Broadway debut on December 2.
“TORCHED!” is about the Bronx fires of the ‘70s and how they affected the community.
“We’re trying to emphasize some of the stories that didn’t make it into the news,” said Rolón. “Many landlords and insurance companies were actually involved in setting up the fires and not the residents.
“We want to have a bit of a balance of justice and calling attention to the fact that the residents were victims and not the perpetrators,” she added. “But it will be a musical production so people can tap their feet and listen to the story.”
Rolón has been involved in the arts from a young age, performing as an actress throughout her school years. When she came to New York, she performed in primarily Latino theaters before she co-founded Pregones in 1979.
Rolón said that back then, she never envisioned her company would be where it is now, with two theaters located in Manhattan and the Bronx.
“We started as a group of young people who wanted to travel to cities rather than have people leave their cities to come to New York,” she said. “We have been to 538 U.S. cities, 38 states and 18 countries.”
The cast of “TORCHED!” performed at the city’s Off-Broadway in the Boros Fest, which Rolón said she was grateful to be a part of.
“‘TORCHED!’ is a bilingual piece, and I think it’s beautiful to be able to perform it here, especially in Queens, the borough with the most diversity and culture,” she said.