Booming Dallas Latinx Theater Troupe Schedules Festival of Experimental Multimedia Works


Cara Mia Theater has become the fifth largest Latinx troupe in the country, with an annual budget of $1.25 million. More importantly, the resident company of the Latino Cultural Center uses its influence to program some of the toughest and most adventurous productions in the city, including leveraging its position to partner with other American bands on missions. similar.

His latest “Latinidades: A Festival of Latinx Theatre,” which takes place over three weekends, is the most recent example. According to executive artistic director David Lozano, Cara Mia brings 41 performers and production staff to town for shows that are distinguished by multidisciplinary multimedia strategies and political content.

Closer to performance art than conventional theater with their use of dance, live music, projections, puppets and masked actors, the plays tackle radically the issues of the hour, seeking to move as only to inform. Two of the three works fall into the realm of science fiction, but all have the surreal quality often found in Latin American theater.

Actors are masked in San Juan-based Papel Machete’s “On the Eve of Abolition” show as part of the Latinidades festival at the Cara Mia Theater.(Courtesy of Cara Mia Theater)

“People can look at the three piece art postcard and probably wonder, ‘What planet is this from?’ Well, that’s the Chicano planet,” Lozano says. “That’s the Chicano universe, the Chicano aesthetic, coming to the LCC.

The festival opens with a historic play about the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, in which white servicemen, off-duty cops and civilians viciously attacked Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles who were defining their culture in loose style. .

Pachuquismo, created by Vanessa Sanchez and her San Francisco-based band La Mezcla, tells the story from the oft-forgotten female perspective with an all-female cast of nine performers dressed in zoot suits. The piece is based on dance and live music, using a mix of Mexican tap dancing style zapateado, jazz, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, regional musical genre son jarocho of Veracruz, video and narration.

“Horrible racism – I mean, it’s primitive,” says Lozano, who has heard of La Mezcla and Pachuquismo from the group’s Instagram page, noting the impactful nature of the piece and the fashion that defined the Zoot Suit era.

“The performance really takes you on an unexpected journey through dance, music and image storytelling against the backdrop of the fight against discrimination that bled into later generations…It was a rebellion against the intimidation to conform, pride in what was tempted to be taken away from them.The creator calls it a dance of resistance.

Next weekend brings another politically charged show to the festival, the first full production from the workshop of On the eve of abolition by Papel Machete de San Juan, co-commissioned by Cara Mia and two other arts organizations.

Video projections sometimes intertwine with live actors in the Papel Machete show
Video projections sometimes intertwine with live actors in the Papel Machete show “On the eve of abolition”.(Courtesy of Cara Mia Theater)

Set in 2047 in the liberated territories of what was once the United States and Mexico, Abolition envisions the end of the “prison-industrial complex”, a cause for which the Papel Machete collective works on stage and off stage.

Based on letters from incarcerated people and content from prison radio shows, the play mixes stop-motion video, puppets and masked actors and is partially funded by the National Performance Network, a coalition of theaters working to advance the racial and cultural justice through the arts. Dallas artists and local community organizers were incorporated into the cast.

One of the other co-curators, Pregones/PRTT from the Bronx, presented a solo piece at the first Latinidades in 2019. “We really like investing in the development of new work,” says Lozano. “It’s part of our mission to become a national destination for Latinx theater.”

The last work of the festival, a satire titled ¡Estar Guars!, comes from the Latino Comedy Project of Austin, a group known to Dallas audiences, having been presented in the past by Cara Mia and Teatro Dallas, the other resident company of the Latino Cultural Center. Characters include migrant farmers, fearless princesses and mystics abuelas.

“They use star wars satirize contemporary culture and politics” through sketches covering a variety of topics, Lozano says. “There is an evil empire bent on making the galaxy great again.”

“¡Estar Guars!”, produced by Austin’s Latino Comedy Project, is part of the Latinidades festival at the Cara Mia Theater.(Courtesy of Cara Mia Theater)

He realizes that it’s crucial to keep Cara Mia’s shows accessible while remaining dedicated to using the company’s growth to showcase a wider range of artists, including experimental ones.

“I think we’re at an artistic point where we have the resources and a vision to experiment a bit more without risking the audience. What’s important is that the audience understands why we’re doing this, and I think there are clear threads,” Lozano says. “Whether it’s considered accessible or whether it’s considered experimental, it’s always centered around the identity and multiple experiences of Latinos. We are attracted to people who demonstrate experience but also a level of mastery. When this happens it can be a powerful experience… Who else is producing this kind of work in our area? »

Austin-based Latino Comedy Project actors
The cast members of “¡Estar Guars!” from the Austin-based Latino Comedy Project!(Courtesy of Cara Mia Theater)


Pachuquismo short September 23-24, On the eve of abolition from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30 2 and ¡Estar Guars! October 7-9 at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 LIve Oak St. $10-$25 or $50 for a pass.


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