Barclay Goldsmith

There is only one theater company in Pima County that regularly and consistently tackles social issues, particularly as they relate to the our people and our region, and it is Borderlands Theatre. But Borderlands delves into a broad diversity of subjects, styles and casting, all under the watchful eye of Producing Director Barclay Goldsmith. A Borderlands founder and since its creation in 1986 its Producing Director, Barclay is the force behind the company and works diligently and imaginatively to keep this local jewel thriving. photo of Barclay Goldsmith

Barclay’s legacy in unique and topical local theater production dates to the early 1970s, shortly after he returned to Tucson in1969 to teach Fine Arts at the new Pima Community College, which he did for 32years, retiring in 2002. In 1973 he and other local theater buffs decided to fill the void in local theater productions by and about Latinos and their issues and created Teatro Libertad.

Staging plays they wrote themselves with local talent in neighborhood centers, schools, churches, union halls and sundry other non-commercial venues, Teatro Libertad addressed civil rights issues and the roiling community issues of the day, from a Latino perspective. “It was an exciting adventure and the audiences were enthusiastic,” Barclay recalls. Teatro Libertad performed in Tucson mainly on the south and west sides, but it also took its shows on the road to Phoenix, Flagstaff, Douglas and other Arizona cities and towns. “I think the most gratifying single performance for me was when we staged a play at an elementary school in Goodyear,” Barclay said. “That was a great experience.”

Barclay’s association with Teatro Libertad ended in 1979,although the troupe carried on into the early 1980s. “I found out collectives were not for me,” he said.

A broad movement of low-budget independent Latino theater that Teatro Libertad was part of died out in the early 1980s but Barclay believed there still was a need “to cultivate Latino voices” in theater. In1986, he co-founded Borderlands Theatre and in 1987 it began staging plays.Borderlands began in the spirit of Teatro Libertad, but was “more professional”and took on a broader approach to theater offerings, Barclay said. Its focus was and remains on the Mexico-U.S. borderlands region, but it outreach has broadened over the years to reach deeper into Mexico and to look at other borders beside the one here, as border regions have elements and interests in common.

Borderlands operates with a mix of paid full- and part-time staff members and offers seasons of five or six productions from falls through springs. Actors are primarily professional locals, but key outsiders are recruited for particular roles. For 17 consecutive Christmas seasons,Borderlands has staged “A Tucson Pastorela,” a locally oriented and each year unique production based on the Nativity story, but laced with rollicking comedy and biting, timely political satire. The 2013 version will be number 18.

Barclay strives to foster new plays in favor of re-staging older works and in this spirit he works with Border Playwrights Project to help develop new plays for production in theaters across the country and in Mexico. He also is a founding member of National New Play Network,created in 1999 and now including 26 theaters, also to champion the writing,development and production of new plays in the U.S. and Mexico.

After getting a taste of Tucson for a few years as a youth, Barclay finished high school in Ojai, California and earned an English degree at Stanford University. He landed a job at a newspaper in Douglas, Arizona, and there met his wife of many years Raquel Rubio Goldsmith. When Raquel went to Mexico City to study at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Barclay went with her and wound up directing a binational cultural center in Mexico. After studying at a foreign-service school in Washington, D.C., he joined the diplomatic corps for a three-year stint. That took him to Argentina, where he again got involved in cultural affairs, including directing theater troupes. He decided on theater as a career and obtained a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 1969, Barclay and Raquel moved to Tucson to join the fledgling faculty at the new Pima Community College. They have been cultural and an educational forces here ever since, and we have benefited immensely.

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Supervisor Adelita Grijalva, Vice Chair

Pima County, Arizona
District 5

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