Theater / Film

Hispanic Theater Fest Of Miami Has Everything From Dramas To Mime To Musicals

Written By Jose Antonio Evora
July 8, 2024 at 2:11 PM

Ecuador is represented this year by “Bruma” (“Haze”) by the Teatro del Cielo group, which takes the stage at the Koubek Center on July 12, 13 and 14 as part of the International Hispanic Theater Festival of Miami’s 38th edition. The festival runs through Sunday, Aug. 4 at four locations throughout the city. (Photo by Juan Xavier Borja/courtesy of Teatro del Cielo).

The International Hispanic Theater Festival of Miami (IHTF) opens its 38th edition on Thursday, July 11 at the Westchester Cultural Arts Center, in Tropical Park, with “Orgia,” a collection of intimate stories of abducted and battered women by the Spanish group La Rara.

“Orgia” is one of the 11 theater productions from Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, the United States, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Uruguay that will take to four stages in South Florida through Sunday, Aug. 4. Four of the plays will be performed with English supertitles: “Alan,”  “Barrabás, historia de un perro” (“Barabbas: Story of a Dog”); “Homenaje a los Alvarez Quintero” (“Tribute to the Álvarez Quintero”) and “Disonancia” (“Dissonance”).

“Alan,” a musical by Mar Puig and Mateu Peramiquel, is one of the three productions  from Spain at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater with English supertitles on July 12, 13, and 14. )Photo courtesy of WeColorMusic and IHTF).

For the second time in its almost four-decade history, IHTF includes a musical. “Alan,” from Spain, is based on real events about a trans boy who was harassed during his gender transition.

Also from Spain is “Homenaje a los Alvarez Quintero” (“Tribute to the Álvarez Quintero”), which walks audiences through the work of brothers Serafín and Joaquín Álvarez Quintero, famous Sevillian comedy authors, skits and zarzuela librettos from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The third play from Spain is for children. “Peneque, cien por cien valiente” (“Peneque, One Hundred Percent Brave”) is presented with no admission charge.

From Uruguay comes “Barrabás: historia de un perro,” the story of what happens when a two-year-old boy is attacked by the family dog ​​in the presence of his mother, who is unable to stop the attack. “It’s quite strong,” says Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the Festival director.

Sánchez runs down some of the other plays in the festival.

“Celestina,” written by David Piccotto and Julieta Daga (Argentina), will be performed July 26, 27 and 28 at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center. (Photo: byJuan Pablo Antún/courtesy of IHTF).

“From Argentina we bring a very different ‘Celestina.’ “From Ecuador is ‘Bruma’ (‘Haze’), with fantastic mimes; from Puerto Rico comes ‘Eter’, with a married couple as the protagonist; from Venezuela ‘La ira de Narciso’ (‘The Wrath of Narciso’), by Sergio Blanco, and (Teatro Avante) closes the Festival with a new work by the playwright Abel González Melo, ‘Disonancia,’ about some people that you find around in a Miami street after they were repressors in Cuba or in Venezuela.”

In addition to the Westchester Cultural Arts Center, there will be shows presented at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theatre, Koubek Center Hall, and the Key Biscayne Community Center.

We asked Sánchez five questions about the festival.

You have said that to choose the plays you go as a scout to festivals such as FIBA ​​​​(Argentina) and Santiago a Mil (Chile), and that, in addition to what you manage to see during the year, you receive proposals and recommendations from colleagues and friends. How did it work this time?

The selection of works for the festival begins a year before. We have a board of a few people dedicated to reviewing all the applications and watching the videos. I prefer to see the work in person, because then, first-hand, I realize everything we need to invite the group to and also because I can appreciate the public’s reaction.

“La ira de Narciso” (“The Wrath of Narciso”), by playwright Sergio Blanco, represents Venezuela at the Koubek Center on July 26, 27 and 28. (Photo by Angelis Gutiérrez/courtesy of IHTF).

I am interested in observing the applause and comparing it with those that are lavished here in Miami, where it is already “unacceptable” to applaud while seated, and it is almost an obligation to shout “bravos” standing up with the most astonishing presumption.

Tell us about the main selection criteria.

There are several points, but first we must receive the required form that all companies or groups must send with the basic information of the work and all the artistic, administrative and technical needs. The main selection criteria are:

1. The work must be by an Ibero-American author, adaptation or descendant. This is very important, since our mission is to preserve our Hispanic culture. 2. (We consider) the artistic quality of the production, its message, the number of members, the ease of touring, obtaining a visa and other less important ones, such as not repeating works by the author in the same year.

What are the biggest setbacks you’ve faced this year?

Time is always the biggest setback. It’s as if the calendar passed us by without warning. Funds to achieve an adequate budget are also an obstacle. Many times, we are fragile and move forward trusting in “the generosity of strangers,” like Blanche Dubois, the character in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” For us, after 38 years, strangers are no longer strangers, we have gained the trust and friendship of many sponsors, colleagues and groups.

From Puerto Rico is Marián Pabón’s drama “Eter,” July 26, 27 and 28 at the Westchester Cultural Arts Center. (Photo by Javier del Valle/courtesy of IHTF).

In Latin America, as in Spain, where there is a Ministry of Culture, public funds can be obtained for selected groups to participate in festivals. However, when the government in power stops supporting the arts and theater, companies have no choice but to remain in their country.

Finally, the biggest setback I have had to overcome in recent years has been being able to find a “stand-in”’ in every way, much younger than me. Somebody who knows, above all, how to accept the job with enthusiasm, interest, discipline and rigor for excellence, regardless of the hours it takes to achieve it.

Why did the Festival choose Juan Margallo and Petra Martínez to give them the Lifetime Dedication to the Arts Award?

This selection is as difficult and rigorous as the selection of the works. Through a panel led by Beatriz J. Rizk, director of our educational program, we choose one or more people who have dedicated their lives to the performing arts, as indicated in the title of the award.

Headed by late maestro Francisco Morín since 1989, the festival has awarded these recognitions to people who have more than deserved it. We already have 34 winners. The selection must be from Latin America, but so much time has passed that even if we don’t want to, the country is repeated, especially countries where theater is not a luxury, but a necessity. We have also selected celebrities from the United States’ Hispanic world.

The festival closes with “Disonancia” (Dissonance), by Abel González Melo, directed by Mario Ernesto Sánchez, with English supertitles in four performances from August 1 to 4 at the Carnival Studio Theater of the Adrienne Arsht Center. Photo by Julio de la Nuez, courtesy of IHTF).

Juan Margallo and Petra Martínez, talented creators, are also winners of the National Theater Award in Spain. They are considered one of the longest and most solid teams in Spanish theater. The festival invited them a few years ago and they brought “La Señora Doña Margarita,” by Roberto Athayde, directed by Margallo.

A new work by Abel González Melo and directed by you closes this festival. Can you give us a preview of the topic and a synopsis?

“Dissonance” takes place between two eras and two spaces, and its central theme is the mark that dictatorships, often arising under the guise of democratic revolutions, leave on societies and human beings. We analyze, through the tools that theater, thought and art give us, how totalitarian regimes develop mechanisms of violence, often overlapping and subtle, that violate and test the integrity of people.

WHAT: 38th International Hispanic Theater Festival of Miami featuring 11 shows and four with English supertitles

WHERE: Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami; Westchester Cultural Arts Center, 7930 SW 40th St. (Tropical Park), Miami, Koubek Center Theater, 2705 SW 3rd St., Miami, and Key Biscayne Community Center, 10 Village Green Way, Key Biscayne.

WHEN: Various times. Thursday, July 11 to Sunday, Aug. 4

COST: $26.91, $29, $30, $32.10, $34. Free admission to “Peneque, One Hundred Percent Brave.”

INFORMATION: (305) 445-8877 or teatroavante.org/programa

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com. 

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