The 32nd International Hispanic Theatre Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 6 with the Mexican company Los Tristes Tigres’ irreverent spin on Shakespeare, “Algo de un tal Shakespeare” (“Something by One Shakespeare”). Founder and director Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the festival’s engine that could and still can, identifies this raucous play as part of the festival’s larger goal of attracting younger audiences: “It seeks to bring young people closer to Elizabethan theater, to have them understand that it doesn’t have to be boring or written in strange languages totally divorced from present reality.”
The Spanish-language play, developed from a series of improvisations on several of Shakespeare’s works, features food fights and wisecracks, and promises to inject the bard with a dose of hilarity and hipness.
Sánchez spends a good part of the year scouring the theater scenes in Latin America and Spain to bring some of the year’s most dynamic shows to Miami.The result is one of the city’s largest theater festivals: eight plays from eight countries in just two and half weeks. While the majority of the plays are in Spanish, the festival strives to attract non-Spanish speaking audiences by presenting plays with English supertitles.
This year “Edipo” (“Oedipus”) from Lisbon, Portugal’s Marmore Companhia Do Chapito and Miami-based Teatro Avante, will both present plays with English supertitles. The festival is also well known for its International Children’s Day, an all-day festival free and open to the public with theater, games, and educational activities.
This year’s festival will take place at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium and it features Spain’s Teloncillo Teatro performing “Nidos” (“Nests”). The movement-oriented piece recreates a world of imagination and nature utilizing interactive theatrical techniques to engage young audience members.
One of the highlights of the annual festival is the debut of a new play by Teatro Avante, the festival’s home company of which Sánchez is also the founder and director. This year’s play “Notas que saben a olvido”(“Forgetting”) by Araceli Mariel Arreche from Argentina, explores Alzheimer’s, which according to some statistics accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. As Sánchez points out: “Teatro Avante does not like to ‘entertain’ without a reason; make people laugh without a message; produce theater on the stage without a social meaning and/or conflict.”
The playwright did extensive research on Alzheimer’s, including spending a couple of months with neurologists on a hospital ward where patients suffer from the disease. Arreche says she realized that she didn’t want to take theater to the hospital, but rather bring the reality of the hospital to the stage. The result is a triptych: “The first part is farcical,” explains Arreche, “the second is melodramatic, humor seems to me the key to make some of the contours visible of such a complex and painful issue.”
The International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami runs through July 27; Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; Miami-Dade County Auditorium’s On.Stage Black Box, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; Key Biscayne Community Center, 10 Village Green Way., Key Biscayne. Tickets: $33-$38; seniors, students and persons with disabilities $32.50. For times and venues, teatroavante.org; www.miamidadecountyauditorium.org ; www.arshtcenter.org; 305-547-5414; 1-800-745-3000.
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