Founded in 1976, GALA Hispanic Theatre has long been a groundbreaking and energetic “theater with a different accent,” presenting classical and contemporary plays in Spanish and English, plus an accompanying program of dance, music, poetry, spoken word, art and, more recently, film.
In January 2005, after 29 years of moving between venues, GALA moved into its permanent home in the historic and newly renovated Tivoli and established itself as a national center Latino performing arts.
A dream come true for GALA founders Hugo and Rebecca Read Medrano and their legion of supporters, the move heralded a new era in their crusade to preserve and promote Hispanic language and culture.
GALA sprung indirectly from Teatro Doble, a bilingual children’s theater working out of Back Alley Theater in Washington, DC. In the early to mid 1970s, Teatro Doble was the only Washington theater catering to Spanish-speaking audiences. Hugo Medrano, Rebecca Read, and other Latino performers with Teatro Doble talked about forming an Hispanic theater that could fill the cultural void and embrace a larger audience. Before long, GALA (Grupo de Artistas Latino Americanos - Group of Latin American Artists) was born.
From the beginning, GALA had two primary goals: to bring Spanish and Latin American plays to the attention of Spanish-speaking people in Washington, DC; and to make the English-speaking public aware of the richness and variety of Hispanic theater. Through its diverse and innovative bilingual programming, the theater has fulfilled these goals year after year. GALA has become what many consider the country’s leading Spanish-language theater, winning a loyal following and scores of awards.
Unlike many areas in the United States, Washington has never been representative of one Hispanic culture. GALA’s principal audience, as well as its actors, have been Argentines, Mexicans, Spaniards, Chileans, Uruguayans, Paraguayans, Peruvians, etc. As a result, GALA has had to respond to issues and concerns of the Latino world at large. For GALA, the unification of its audience has been a paramount objective. “GALA is not Spanish, nor Argentine, nor Puerto Rican,” Hugo Medrano has said. “It is Latino in the fullest sense.” As such, each season GALA has included productions that appeal to a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds.