Hispanic Heritage Month Highlight: Teatro Paloma

Although Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th to October 15th, we wanted to still highlight people in the community throughout the month of October.

We wanted to take the time to highlight members of our community who are doing amazing work. In this Q&A series we will be connecting with different people in the Lancaster County Community learning about the work that they do.

Today we’re highlighting a local theater company, Teatro Paloma. Teatro Paloma was founded in 2016, and since the beginning of our collective, about six years ago, we have focused on bringing Latinx-centered stories to different stages in Lancaster. By doing so, they’ve created acting and community engagement opportunities for Latinx aspiring actors, artists, and community leaders. 

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Since our conception, we always aimed to be like a safe nest for all, and in every project, our guiding principles have always been cariño, understanding, and genuine inclusivity, in efforts to prioritize both representation and healing of historical and colonial erasures. Though we are often grouped as one big community, “Latinx” is an umbrella term that aims to include multiple subgroups with our own national, racial, and ethnic backgrounds and therefore, we all have different histories, cultures, and sometimes, even languages. As part of this journey of healing, we think it is very essential to see each one of our members as we are, acknowledging not only our similarities, but also, celebrating our cultural differences.

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Mental Health awareness is VERY essential in the Hispanic/Latinx communities because we are conditioned to believe that mental health issues are signs of weak-minded people. Because of the disparity in access to information and services that our communities face, we have been at higher risk of developing mental health conditions. These are often triggered not only through genetics, but also because of other societal factors like language barriers, cultural identity struggles, lack of employment and housing opportunities, and other issues that predominantly affect our Latinx communities.

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As artists ourselves, we believe in the power of healing in the arts. We also believe that art can mean so many different things for every single person. So our advice to our Latinx children/youth is to explore the arts as a first-aid kit where they can learn to express themselves, while also developing healthy coping mechanisms. We would also encourage them to be kind and patient with themselves, and to also seek leaders and organizations in their schools/communities that can guide them through the process of finding services that are accessible to them.