A Coloradan’s new play hopes to unite people around universal topics — using police killings in Puerto Rico as the backdrop

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Courtesy The Bug Theatre
Cast members rehearse for their play “Puerto Rican Nocturne” at The Bug Theatre in Denver.

A new play at The Bug Theatre in Denver sheds light on police killings in Puerto Rico in 1978. In telling the story, the playwright hopes Coloradans can find common ground. 

“Puerto Rican Nocturne,” tells the story of the 1978 Cerro Maravilla Murders in Puerto Rico. 

On that day, a group of police officers assassinated two Puerto Rican independence activists who had planned to bomb radio towers in protest of the U.S. occupation of Puerto Rico

Colorado Playwright Jonathan Marcantoni Rosa says the story is relevant to Coloradans today.

“Well, the reason I felt this story would really resonate is that even though it's very particular to Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican history, it is touching on universal topics, such as grief and police violence, which have been very prevalent in the news in recent years,” Marcantoni Rosa said.“And so I feel like the best stories are the ones that are both particular, as well as universal.”

For director Noemi Negron, an even broader lesson lies in the words and actions of the play.

Courtesy The Bug Theatre
Cast members rehearse for their play "Puerto Rican Nocturne" at The Bug Theatre in Denver.

“This story is a never-ending story, unfortunately, and it could happen again. It happened in 1978, and we have to remind that everything has a cost,” Negron said. “What is the cost that your dreams, your ideas, or your belief? We have to keep that in mind.”

Marcantoni Rosa says his play is as much about the political as it is about the personal.

“I wanna see more of these kinds of shows, touching on the personal and the universal too, to bring people together as opposed to merely opening up wounds and leaving people divided.” 

And for Marcantoni Rosa, it’s a show he hopes can unite people of all backgrounds to come together to see our common humanity in motion.

The Puerto Rican Nocturne production planned at the THEATREdART in Colorado Springs was a casualty of the March 2020 COVID-19 shutdown, but now Puerto Rican Nocturne plays at The Bug Theatre in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood through August 15.

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