Alumnus Roberto Tolentino ’19 to star in 'Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)'

BY Robbie Armstrong, February 17, 2020


Acting Alumnus Roberto Tolentino ’19 stars in Fandango For Butterflies (and Coyotes), a new play about immigration by Andrea Thome that will be produced at venues in all five New York City boroughs. The production, produced by En Garde Arts, started performances at La MaMa earlier this month.


Inspired by the author’s interviews with undocumented immigrants from Latin America living in New York, Fandango For Butterflies (and Coyotes) will take the form of a fandango, a community celebration where stories are brought to life through live performance, music, and dance. On the eve of city-wide ICE raids, a group of immigrants gather in an undisclosed community center in NYC for a fandango. As fear encroaches — fear for family left behind in their home countries, fear for loved ones in the middle of their dangerous journey to New York, fear of leaving the sanctuary of the community center simply just get a bag of ice — a sense of camaraderie builds between the participants. Strangers become friends, friends become family, and the fandango plays on.


Fandango For Butterflies (and Coyotes) was developed through Uncommon Voices at En Garde Arts. This new-works program produced site-specific productions throughout New York City in the 1980s, but now has transitioned to documentary theatre works focusing on social justice initiatives.


Tolentino plays Johan, a narrator-like figure who guides the show and its many fandangos, inspiring audience participation. The cast was encouraged to share their family history and immigration tales and in a statement, Tolentino recalled his grandmother, though she had a home and a job in the United States, had to resort to an illegal border crossing to get back to them when her tourist visa was torn up by a border agent and she was sent back to Mexico.


Performances will be in English and Spanish with supertitles. En Garde Arts is also partnering with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs who will have a booth at select performances, which will provide both immigrants and allies with resources and actionable steps.


Tickets for performances can be purchased here. Free tickets are offered to audience members who bring their jaranas (Mexican mini-guitars) and participate in the fandango during this theatrical celebration! Fandango For Butterflies (and Coyotes) opened on February 6 and will play through March 15.