#PersonOfChange: An interview with director Luis Reyes Cardenas

Antonio Miniño
Jul 25 · 4 min read

“There is an explosion waiting to happen on the streets of the Bronx.”

Originally hailing from Los Angeles, CA and Niagara Falls, NY and now a resident and cultural leader in the Bronx, Latinx director Luis Reyes Cardenas is one of the founding members of Open Hydrant Theatre Company, nurturing the arts and theater scene in the theatrically under-served community of Hunt’s Point.

When did you know you wanted to be a director?

The film Terms of Endearment. I was 10 years old and hopped on a bus to the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. I couldn’t stop crying for days. I was hooked when I came to the realization it was created from scratch. I wanted to create moments like that.

When was the first time you saw yourself represented on stage or film?

I had been obsessed with the Live Tony Telecast each year as a child. in 1992 there was a new musical called Falsettos that aired. I so enjoyed the song set they performed. I remember scrounging all the money I had and made a trip to NYC with my best friend to see that particular show. I remember being sucker punched laughing and then balling by the end. I had never seen a show that represented everything I was feeling and found a way to express it creatively.

What is Open Hydrant Theater Company?

Open Hydrant’s mission is simple. Diversity Matters. OH is the first Equity Theater Company in the South Bronx. We serve the diverse youth of the community. Our main goal is to make commercial theatre accessible to the poor. If we aren’t building, inspiring our diverse future to become theater patrons, how can we ever overcome. Money should not stop someone from seeing Broadway and detour a youth of color from pursuing a career in theater. We help make a path for a child in need to the working professional theatre world. Our programming is specifically geared towards teachers and children. Through musicals and non-traditional interpretations of Shakespeare, we work with our youth to rise above their natural rhythms and break traditional barriers.

It’s such a clever name, how did you come up with it?

Wanted something to represent our community. There is an explosion waiting to happen on the streets of the Bronx.

How is the theatre scene in the South Bronx? Who else is dedicated to fostering the Arts in your neighborhood?

We are the first AEA Ensemble Theatre Company. With 2 million people in our bureau, it’s crazy to think we are creating historic work in NYC. Pregones is the closest company to us creating great work in the community.

Who are your recurring collaborators?

The Point CDC is our main partner. We recently partnered with TDF and we are creating cohorts from the community who go and see Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.

What is the most challenging show you’ve directed? The most exciting?

The most challenging so far was a youth production of In The Heights. Not only challenging but the most exciting as well. We brought together 30 youth form the community. Th show was extended 4 times and was our biggest production yet.

Anything else you would like to add?

We will be holding auditions this August for Annie JR and Les Miserables (School Edition). We also started an adult community theatre called Urban Waves and this season we will focus on Stephen Adly Guirgis plays.

If you enjoyed this interview and the #PersonOfChange series don’t forget to hit the 👏 button (you can 👏 up to 50 times per article). Also feel free to follow me on twitter, instagram, and facebook.

Previously on #PersonOfChange:

Antonio Miniño

Written by

Dominican theatre maker in NYC. Writer of the #PersonOfChange Series, showcasing persons of color and/or persons who identify as non-binary.

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