Dallas — This weekend Teatro Dallas presents the 17th annual International Theatre Festival, which this year is dedicated to Mexico. This year’s evening performances, Feb. 4-6, are at the Dallas Children’s Theater; and the 3 p.m. matinee on Feb. 6 is at Teatro Dallas’ space in the medical district.
The shows are:
- 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4: Pizzicato by Dallas’ Danielle Georgiou Dance Group
- 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5: Laboratorio de la Máscara and Idiotas Teatro of Mexico present Caracol y Colibrí (Snail and Hummingbird) by Sabrina Berman
- 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6: Parting Memories a wordless piece performed by by Violeta Luna
- 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6: Otro Día de Fiesta (Another Day Partying) by Marco Petrz, performed by Grupo Teatral Tehuantepec of Mexico.
You can read descriptions of the shows here.
The shows on Friday and Saturday nights are performed in Spanish, with English libretti provided.
TheaterJones asked, via email, questions of Alica Martínez Álvarez of Laboratorio de la Máscara and Violeta Luna about their companies and works.
TheaterJones: Tell us about your organization, its history and mission.
Alicia Martínez Álvarez: Laboratorio de la máscara (Artyficio A.C.) has been working for 23 years under the auspices of Artyficio A.C. Laboratorio. It brings innovative performances and educational programs, not only through its most important element, the mask, but also by using unconventional spaces, unique dramaturgy and physical theater.
The idea of a laboratory and the mask, as a theatrical tool, Laboratorio de La Máscara explores and reinvents the possibilities of a creative theater which poetry links cultural roots with out social reality. The company has traveled the Mexican Republic, yet the game and the exploration of alternative spaces have generated a large range of adventures at museums, plazas, fountains and other community spaces. The group has participated at many national and international festivals as well as holding cultural exchanges.
Violeta Luna: Born in Mexico, Violeta’s work focuses on the construction of a multidimensional space that allows for the crossing of aesthetics and conceptual borders. She uses her body as a territory, approaching, questioning, and commenting on social and political phenomena. She works with the collective Secos y Mojados, a San Francisco-based collective focusing their work on immigrant narratives and explorations of interdisciplinary performance. Spanish for “the dry ones and wet ones,” their name is inspired by the effect that clandestine border crossings, through deserts, rivers and sea, have on the body of the migrant, but are interested in “border crossings” of any kind, ultimately relating to the interconnectedness of identities and places. Secos’ artists embark on the practice of performance grounded on their experiences in theater, music, and performance art, moved by the realization that all creative disciplines are unique and also share common principles, and set out to research the connections that exist between them, and the social reality where they, and us, live and resonate.
Their work aims to develop a language for a more nuanced expression of the place that “the migrant” occupies in an inclusive social imaginary. We are all trans-national immigrants: Violeta Luna, performance artist; David Molina, musician, composer, and Roberto Varea, stage director and dramaturg. Individually, and in different combinations, we have been making art in the Bay Area for over 20 years.
Why did you select this work for the festival?
Alicia Martínez Álvarez: Cora knows my work and has staged playwright Sabina Berman; she trusts us as artists and when I proposed this new work, she immediately invited us to be part of this unique festival.
Violeta Luna: Cora Cardona and I met at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Teatrales from the Institute of Fine Arts during an international educational event. She and I were the only independent artists, the rest were academics, wonderful university stage directors and actors. Both Cora and I taught our disciplines at this event. We often walked together and chatted for long periods of time, and that’s how I exposed my work to her. She loved my ideas, videos, imagery and she asked me then if I could participate at Teatro Dallas’ Festival, I agreed.
What’s the socio-political relevance of the work?
Alicia Martínez Álvarez: Caracol y Colibrí is a family show that stimulates the practice of music in new generations, backs up traditional Mexican music while paralleling corn and music, two elements that touch the identity of Mexicans.
Caracol y Colibrí is a ludic presentation, with great and attractive visual factors through its masks. Even though is performed in Spanish there are many physical games and other expressions that allow the viewer to understand the story but also to be moved.
Violeta Luna: The new immigration policies, and the lack of a coherent immigration reform project, have deeply worsened the working conditions of our communities. Right wing politicians are having a field day promoting organized crime hysteria scenarios to stigmatize the Latino body as criminal, legalizing ethnic profiling practices.
Among the many contradictions of global capitalism is that borders are completely open to goods and products, but not to common citizens.These “receptor” societies where the flow of migrants is continuous, use politics of control and fear to present the immigrant as the enemy. They reduce the immigrant’s “corporality” as a mere tool for work, the extension of a machine that is only good for producing wealth for others. For the dominant groups, these bodies lose their histories when they cross, becoming a clean slate for an imposed negative identity.
In Apuntes sobre la Fontera (Parting Memories) I am interested in wrestling with this issue of the “corporality of the migrant” breaking out of these oppressive notions. I am interested in elaborating an alternative vision that highlights the creative potentiality in the body of the migrant.
Working with the complexities that can reveal a dimension to the immigrant as a being capable of self expression, of seeing, thinking, feeling and acting in positive relationships with their environment and with others.
The theme on immigration involves everyone, at the moment Asian, Africa, Europe and the United States. This is an interactive play that stimulates a dialogue with the audience.