Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 08th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Leading Rainbow

ae1 danceUCSC’s Rainbow Theater celebrates 20 years of breaking down cultural walls and promoting dialogue

For two decades, Don Williams has opened every Rainbow Theater production at UC Santa Cruz with a boisterous call and response between himself and the audience: “Rainbow, Rainbow!” “Rainbow, Rainbow!”

The chant is both a greeting and a celebration between members of the company—the only student-run, multicultural theater in the UC system—and their supporters.

“When we first started the troupe, that calling out was to demonstrate the connections that people made within the organization,” explains Williams, Rainbow’s founder and producer. “There’s still an underlying current about Rainbow that is constantly renewing itself through the thousands of voices that are given the opportunity to tell their stories.”

Rainbow Theater’s 20th anniversary season kicks off Nov. 1 at UCSC’s Stevenson Event Center. Over three weekends, the company will present four plays, a poetry performance, and a dance show.

A special Rainbow Theater alumni weekend will be held Nov. 8–10, featuring alumni-led acting workshops, meet-and-greet opportunities, and the aforementioned student performances.

“The fact that there is a historic train of people that have come through the program, reminds our current students that they are members of a bigger family,” explains Williams. “I’m sure that there’s urgency within them to do a greater job telling their stories, and a sense of excitement to meet the pioneers of this group.”

While Rainbow Theater’s mission—to create unity, higher visibility and an understanding of the various cultures represented within the UCSC community and beyond—hasn’t changed over the years, original members will notice one big difference: the size of the company. In its first 1993-94 season, Rainbow Theater staged three one-act plays with only 30 students. Today, well over 150 students on average audition for the company, and this season boasts a cast and crew of around 90.

“What’s really beautiful about Rainbow is that you don’t need to have any experience in theater whatsoever—if you’re interested, you can be a part of it,” says Rainbow alumna and the program’s administrative assistant, Crystelle Reola. “Because it is all student initiated and organized, students really have the space to communicate what they want to see on this campus.”

Reola recalls being drawn to Rainbow Theater because of its commitment to bringing marginalized communities into the spotlight. For example, showcasing African American, Chicano/Latino, and Asian American playwrights has been a staple of every Rainbow season since its inception. Additional components to the company, like the dance troupe and Poet’s Corner, were added over the years to provide ample artistic outlets for every participant.

“It is so important that we have Rainbow on this campus,” says Reola. “It has engaged so many more students about their culture, as well as everyone else’s.”

ae1 outreachRainbow Theater’s Community Enhancement Outreach travels to California high schools to speak to students about the benefits of higher education.This attention to the perspectives of minority groups is fitting, as Rainbow Theater was named in honor of the Rainbow Coalition founded in the 1960s by lead activists in the Black Panthers and Young Patriots, both of which were dedicated to solidarity and unity across cultural difference.

“From what I understand, Rainbow Theater was started to provide a space for students of color to talk about their experiences from different cultural backgrounds,” says Brenda Covarrubias, Rainbow Theater president. “But, it’s not just for people of color—it’s for anyone who is willing to put in the work to bring these shows to life and educate our campus.”

Opportunities to get involved with the company extend beyond acting, and include set design, lighting, costuming, and makeup with the Tech Crew, or Rainbow TV. There is also Rainbow Theater’s Community Enhancement Outreach Team, which travels to California high schools to speak to students about the benefits of higher education.

“You don’t even realize until afterward how many theater fundamentals you can learn with Rainbow Theater,” says Veronica Pulido, a Rainbow Theater alumna and recent UCSC graduate. “There aren’t a lot of theater troupes that cater to the demographic Rainbow works with, and it really does help you network. It’s a stepping stone to connect with a greater community of creative minds.”

Those networks are something that the current president, Covarrubias, hopes to learn a lot from during alumni weekend. Having attended Rainbow productions since seventh grade, she believes that those enduring relationships are a big part of what has sustained the company for so long.

“The Rainbow family is a huge supportive community of artists that encourages everyone to speak up and tell their stories,” says Covarrubias. “Working with the alumni in person will help bridge the gap between generations, and ground the current members in how far this organization has come.” 

Rainbow Theater’s fall season runs Nov. 1-17. All six shows will be held at UCSC’s Stevenson Event Center, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz. Admission is free for UCSC students with an ID, $7/seniors and non-UCSC students with an ID, and $10/general. For tickets and info, visit or call 459-1861.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Hot in Here

This ain’t no Burning Man—the MAH’s GLOW festival flames on


Mercury Direct in Libra, Columbus Day, Libra New Moon

Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Red Scars

Mao’s politics made personal in poignant Chinese family drama ‘Coming Home’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Seoul Food

Santa Cruz’s new Sesame Korean is a great introduction to an ancient culinary tradition


Is there evil in the world?

Yes, some people don’t think right because they have been treated badly. Milo Robbins, Scotts Valley, Second Grade


Dos Aguilas Olive Oil

Aptos company is letting locals pick their own olives in October


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist