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Culture of Belonging

Tony King (Little John) and Lavour Addison (Robin Hood) practice a fight scene during a recent Creede Repertory Theatre rehearsal for Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood. Caitlyn Wise (Doerwynn) practices in the background. (Courtesy photo)

WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE CREEDE REPERTORY THEATRE, I think of the stunning remoteness of Creede. I think about the excellent caliber of the shows I’ve seen there — how the performances feel intimate and fantastic but not budget. I marvel at the talent that the CRT attracts from around the country; it brings to mind this quote from Native Gardens Director Julia Rosa Sosa Chaparro: “It’s a piece of gold where you don’t expect it.” 

What a fitting quote for a former mining town turned theater community. 

Founded in 1966, the CRT is currently in its 56th season. As a repertory theater, the CRT produces seven to 10 plays in rotation every season. So, if you were visiting Creede, you could see five different shows in one week.

This year, two of those productions are Native Gardens and Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood

Native Gardens is a comedy about the perils of the American dream, especially when it comes to sharing fences. 

Sherwood is a family-friendly action-packed adventure with sword play, heroes and multiple castles. 

Chaparro said the hardest part about directing for a repertory theater is having to adhere to a tight schedule. 

“If we were able to, we’d be in the room forever, exploring the play. The hardest challenge is the time constraint. How can you fit creativity in a short amount of time?” 

MacKenzie Mulligan, lighting designer for Sherwood said, “The whole show is so funny. It’s a comedy through and through.”

Mulligan said Sherwood requires a lot of lighting cues. 

“For Sherwood we’re all over the place. We are in caverns and castles and meadows and forests,” she said. “Some happen within lines of each other. We move places, we move times of day, we change moods.” 

Mulligan starts the design process by researching imagery. For Sherwood that meant, hazy forests, English countrysides, sun filtering through trees and medieval window patterns. “Lighting is one weird theatrical element because you can’t really touch it. The crazy thing is, if we do it right, you won’t notice it too much,” Mulligan said. 

Rossina Lozoya, costume designer for Native Gardens, just finished her master of fine arts degree in costume design and will soon depart for Norwegian Cruise Lines as lead costumer. 

She explained that the challenging part in costuming for Native Gardens is that all the characters need to be likable. 

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how much psychology goes into costume design,” Lozoya explained. “We as members of society are used to making quick inferences based on what someone is wearing. So as a costume designer you have to truly understand what the character is wanting to portray and figure out what clothing will help convey that message.”

Emily Bosco, who plays Tiana in Native Gardens, said, “We’re having so much fun with Native Gardens. It’s a tête-à-tête between the characters.” 

While the cutting verbal sparring in Native Gardens, makes for good theater, the underlying reality at CRT is, as the website proclaims, a commitment to “creating a culture of belonging for everyone,” a reality that made for a refreshing experience during interviews and conversations with the CRT troupe. 

Bosco said, before they go on stage for Steel Magnolias, the all-female cast says, “I hold you up.” 

“There is not a bad egg in the whole CRT company,” she said. “It sounds cliché, but it feels like a family. And I’ve only been here a short time. So I feel like that will just grow and grow.” 

This is Bosco’s first season at CRT, and her first time working at a repertory theater. 

“Anytime they ask me to come back, I am here.” 

Lozoya said she loves “how valued I feel both as a designer and as a person, the respect shown by everyone in CRT is palpable. What I like least? Unstable internet connections.” 

“The people here are so welcoming,” Mulligan said, “I’ve already made friends I feel like I’ve known forever.” 

Chaparro said the theater “brings up and harvests a lot of talent. To see a town around the mountains that gives so much love to the arts and the community — I think it’s wonderful.” 

In her professional past, Chaparro has felt overlooked because she is a minority and a woman. 

“I think sometimes they question your capabilities. I look younger than my age too. Sometimes that works for me, but sometimes in a room where you have to take a little bit of leadership — it doesn’t.”

Those “hiccups” haven’t happened in Creede. 

“Here in Creede, it’s been a positive experience. I haven’t been questioned once for my appearance or where I’m from.” 

Bosco says anyone wanting to pursue acting as a career should go for it. “The world needs art. We connect each other in a very human way by putting our stories up.” 

Another piece of advice, Bosco said, “Learn your lines early.” Once you know your lines you can really play it up and take director notes without being bogged down by wondering what you need to say next. 

Native Gardens is a bittersweet comedy. It’s very funny, until it’s not. I think we’re coming out of a very dark time … and people have been telling us that it’s been cathartic to be in a space with other humans just laughing.” 

According to the website, Native Gardens “contains some mature themes, depictions of smoking, and horticultural mayhem.” It opened June 18 and will run until Sept. 11.

Sherwood is directed by John DiAntonio. The website warns: “This play contains some mild language, macabre descriptions of death, depictions of alcohol consumption, copious bows and arrows, and sword-fighting in the style of Errol Flynn.” It opened June 25 and will run until Sept. 10. For the full schedule visit

Cailey loves theater so much married a thespian! (And he is the new SHS drama coach!)