With standing ovations and final bows, Rainbow Theater officially closed out their 29th season this past weekend. 

Rainbow Theater played out over two weekends, “My Home on the Moon” and “blu” debuting and finishing over the weekend of May 6. Poet’s Corner, dubbed “So You Want to be a Slug,” and “Immediate Family” ran the following weekend, closing on Sunday, May 15. 

After introductions from student-directors and Cultural Arts and Diversity Resource Center Director Don Williams, the house lights at the Stevenson Event Center dimmed and were replaced with vibrant blues, reds, and whites to illuminate the stories being told on stage. 

A light blue tinge fills the stage, waiting to be filled with action as the actors enter from the wings. The dormant stage is set, adorned with a table dedicated to Lan’s ancestors at the phở restaurant. Photo by Merri Hansen.

“My Home on the Moon” written by Minna Lee 

The night began with the tale of a Vietnamese phở restaurant, later reeling in audiences with the sharp twist that the restaurant was in fact, a simulation. 

Mai and Lan were on the brink of losing their restaurant before a newcomer to town, Vera, offered to be their new marketing assistant. As the play unravels, Vera and Mai become closer and closer, eventually starting to date as they work together at the restaurant.

Full Cast of “My Home on the Moon”
Mai: Joan Young 
Lan: Sreejita Ghose
Vera: Nina Ulaganathan
Beau: Vincent McDowell
Gigi, Fod Critic, and Ancestor: Kevin Bui

Mai and Vera look around in fear and confusion as the noodle Mai keeps seeing returns to the sky. Throughout the show, Mai occasionally sees a giant noodle, sparking concern in her friends for her sanity. Photo by Merri Hansen.

But when inconsistent co-worker Beau returns to the restaurant, he tells Mai about the simulation she’s been living in, and that Vera is an AI. The show concludes with Mai using a sword from her ancestors to cut through the simulation and re-enter the world where their restaurant has been closed and invaded by the gentrifying neighborhood. By reentering the world, Mai leaves behind her AI girlfriend and Lan, who chooses to stay in the simulation. 

“The first rehearsal … was exciting because there’s really not anything else like this at this campus,” said Joan Young, a newcomer to the Rainbow community. “I think this is a really good opportunity for especially people of color to get strong roles and embrace stuff that really matters to us.”

Surrounded by their co-stars as they apply stage makeup with care, Pedro Rios prepares to be known as Blue for the night. Throughout the show, Rios was dedicated to a variety of emotions, being seen both dancing to the music blaring in Blue’s headphones to the pain associated with the complex family dynamic that surrounds the house of Soledad. Photo by Merri Hansen.

“blu” written by Virginia Grise 

Full Cast of “blu”
Eme: Diego Jimenez
Hailstorm: Kassandra Maita
Lunatico: Simon Pierce
Blu: Pedro Rios
Soledad: Dyanna Rodriguez
Gemini: Yajahira Salazar

During intermission, the phở restaurant audiences grew to love transformed into the barrio, with the home of Soledad at center stage. 

“blu” dives into both individuals in the family, along with the complex situations that surround them. As Soledad’s family grapples with the incarceration of their abusive father, they also mourn the loss of the eldest son, Blue, after he enlists in the Army.

Meanwhile, middle child Lunatico must come to terms with Soledad’s partner, Hailstorm, as a parental figure in their lives. All of these circumstances bring their own individual struggles, and demonstrate how the family both comes together and falls apart. 

After his entanglement with gangs, Eme is arrested, separating him from his four children. While incarcerated, Eme receives very little interaction from his children or his former partner, Soledad, as she attempts to steer her children away from the life that separated them all from their father. Photo by Merri Hansen.

Pedro Rios, who portrays Blue in the show, spoke to how despite the cast coming from different backgrounds within the Latine community, they all resonated with the show and were able to bond closer together before audiences flooded the stands. Rios said this family-like atmosphere for the cast gave them an edge in portraying a family on stage. 

“We all come together, and we’re hearing about these shows and bonding over the experiences in these shows. And I look around, and I’m like, ‘Wow, everyone here knows hardship. They know how to be grateful for that space,’” Rios said. “This school is a predominantly white school, which doesn’t think of us first. But Rainbow Theater thinks of us first …it’s a special space for us. We build that space. We make that space what it is.”

“Give me a P! Give me a W! Give me a U! What does that spell? PWU, predominantly white university!” The Slug Squad rallied for the PWU during the poem, “Fuck the UC,” which led audiences through a tour of the university. Photo by Merri Hansen.

Poet’s Corner, or “So You Want to Be a Slug?”

Kicking off the second weekend of Rainbow Theater is the student written and directed show, Poet’s Corner. 

This production changes annually, as it is fully in the hands of students to decide what theme and style they want to produce. This year, the cast decided to write about the underbelly of being a slug and the experience of being a marginalized student at UC Santa Cruz. 

Full Cast of “So You Want to Be a Slug”
Karrie Dennis
Diego Leon De Jesus
Ximena Mandujano
Diamond Moore
Evelyn Sabety
Alex Vargas
Mya Villanuevae
Rae Williams

First-year poet Rae Williams looks at their distorted self in the mirror, elaborating that this distortion occurs in the process of perception. When the world perceives people, they become distorted and warped, filled with misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions. Photo by Merri Hansen.

Poems capture the feeling of distortion of how individuals are perceived, and while the university may admit students, they are not always accepted once they’re here. 

First-year Airielle Silva, who is also active in the Black Student Union, shared both her Latine and Black identity with audiences in addition to unveiling the lack of support the university provides to underrepresented students. 

“Are you really Black? Are you really Latina? Are you really queer?” All questions that first-year Airielle Silva has been bombarded with, as outlined in one of her poems. Photo by Merri Hansen.

“I love that I was a tour guide in the last poem that was titled, ‘Fuck the UC.’ I’m bringing along the crowd, on the school tour and just revealing all of the actualities of the institution,” Silva said. “Of course, I’m not that ignorant tour guide that’s just guiding you along this campus. Not letting you know the realities of life here. But it’s really interactive. It gets really deep. No one really expected the end to be like that, which is one of my favorites.” 

This poem concluded the show, ending with the full cast chanting ‘Fuck the UC.’ 

Evy Bryant, portrayed by first-year Andi Brooks, paces over to her desk, anxiously awaiting her family’s arrival. Photo by Merri Hansen.

“Immediate Family” written by Paul Oakley Stovall 

Full Cast of “Immediate Family”
Evy: Andi Brooks
Tony: Josiah Cannon
Kristian: Everest Harvey
Ronnie: Nazeerah Rashad
Nina: Tamyiah Starnes
Jesse: Caleb Zaldaña

For Rainbow Theater’s final show, audiences are thrust into the living room and family drama of Evy, the seemingly high-strung and put-together eldest daughter of the Bryant family.

As the calendar gets closer and closer to youngest brother Tony’s wedding, the siblings reunite after years of being distant.  

In the first act of the show, it is revealed that Evy’s husband and her are “taking a break,” Tony’s bride-to-be is four months pregnant, and Jesse, their other brother, is gay.

While Jesse’s sexuality was no shock to Tony, what shocked the family was when Jesse brought home his white boyfriend, Kristian. 

Half-sister Ronnie sits with Kristian, Jesse’s boyfriend. Photo by Hayley Sanchez.

Second-year Sam Robinson made their directorial debut in “Immediate Family,” after starring as Novelette in the African American Theater Arts Troupe’s production of “‘da Kink in My Hair.’” Robinson assistant-directed alongside third-year Bene’t Benton. 

“I think it was just overall really exciting to not only tell the story, but to put the actors in the position to tell the stories. I wanted to make sure we were all comfortable, have a good time, and express ourselves in different ways,” Robinson said. “I think just the idea of being able to relate to our characters and our actors, and then working together to put on the story that we truly want to tell.”

Tony, Jesse, and Evy play cards alongside family-friend and neighbor Nina. Photo by Hayley Sanchez.

While the Rainbow season may be over, the shows and looming chants of “Rainbow, Rainbow” still ring in the minds of the cast, crew, and audiences. 

Next year, Rainbow Theater will be celebrating their 30th anniversary of bringing multicultural theater to UCSC and building a community in which underrepresented students can tell their stories.

“You don’t need to be an actor to be a part of Rainbow Theater, that’ll come later. What you need is the drive to tell a story that hasn’t been told,” said Rios. “You need to have pride in whatever race, ethnicity you are and just bring that pride bring that happiness to Rainbow theater, because it’s for everyone.”

At the close of opening night, the cast of “blu” and “My Home on the Moon” received flowers and multiple rounds of applause. Alongside them were their directors, assistant directors, and members of the tech crew. Photo by Merri Hansen.