Juarez blessed with arts this week

I feel like I need to clone myself this week because there are so many overlapping events I can’t see them all unless I’m my own double.
Beginning last Thursday and running through this Thursday (20) is the amazing “Ambulante-gira de Documentales.”. This yearly collection of documentary films from around the world tours various States of Mexico, and this week it is here. Mostly concerned with issues of social concerns in all of its forms it brings some remarkable films, most of which are free. Included are well-known, though too little seen films like Last Men in Aleppo, about the doctors who stayed in that city during the bombing, but there are also unknown fims and various series on different films  like a series of shorts I saw the other day about migration in all of its forms told from a child’s point of view. I was particularly moved by a film of a young boy from Syria who was missing his father still in Syria. There are director’s talks and a series of workshops. This Wednesday night there is an outdoor  screening of “Ovarian Psycho” about a group of women (Ovarian Psycho Bicycle Brigade)  who use bicycles  to take back streets of Los Angeles. This film at 8:00 will be preceded by a bicycle tour starting from La Rodadora led by Punto de Lanza and beginning at 6.
So in  addition to all of  these films, there is also the Siglo de Oro drama festival on both sides of the border which this year brings troupes from Spain, Canary Islands and Mexico City. These are all free.
Tuesday at 5 there is a free lecture about Carla Rippey’s remarkable exhibition at the Museo de Arte, and of course there are the usual goings on like the weekly c”Charla Fotografia” which features a talk on a different aspect of photography every week.

It’s a good week to be here, I just wish there were more of me.-David  sokolec


Plans for a Nuevo Siglo

The folks at Los Paisanos de la Chamizal have an ambitious plan for a new huge Hispanic themed festival designed to bring artists and performers from all over the world as well as the inclusion of local talent in what sounds like a wonderful proposition. They have the support of the City and County of El Paso as well as the National Park Service and are looking for local talent, businesses and people in general to join in. Their website is  at Nuevo Siglo-elpaso.org.

I have to say that one of the things I found exciting when I moved here was the Siglo de Oro theater festival at the Chamizal. Under the leadership of the indefatigable Virginia Ness, theater groups and academics from all over the world came to both sides of the border to perform widely varying interpretations of plays from the Golden Age of Spain. I could never figure out why the city and various arts organizations didn’t use this as an opportunity to join hands and create a citywide, or binational wide, festival which would attract theatergoers from all over a la Spoleto festival in Charleston or the Santa Fe Opera. At last there  seems to be a recognition that a festival bringing together local and national talent to the region would be an enormous boost for the region.I’m not sure the new plan is designed to include the Siglo de Oro festival, which has unfortunately been allowed to dwindle to a pale shadow of its former self, or if , as it appears to be, an entirely new type of festival. In either case, it sounds wonderful and good luck to them.-david sokolec

Theater Mitu explores Juarez/El Paso Mythology

This Sunday (July 7) at UTEP’s Rubin Center, experimental and adventurous New York based theater group Theater Mitsu will be presenting the culmination of a two year intensive investigation of our border region, incorporating interviews, experiences, and research. They are calling it Juarez- a documentary Mythology and it is designed to explore myths, legends experiences etc of people from our region.  The founding director of the group Ruben Polendo was raised in Juarez and the group has done theater work with organizations from all over the world. The performance will be at 7 pm and is free.
There will also be two performances in Juarez, one on July 12 at 7 and the other the next night July 13 at 10 pm at the Centro Cultural Paso del Norte in the Octavio Trias theater. These will also be free but you need tickets and the theater holds around 300.
At the Rubin Center there will also be an art installation that features an audio sculptural event as well as photos, sound recordings, etc  that both documents and complements the performance.  This is scheduled to be on display from July 25-Sept 14 in the downstairs Project Space.
Info on all of thiscan be found at the Theater Mitu website (theatermitu.org), on the facebook page , and at the Rubin Center website (rubincenter.utep.edu)- david sokolec

Cambalache Teatro at Siglo de Oro

As they did last year, the Cambalache Group from Murcia Spain showed how to do Siglo de Oro era plays last night here in Juarez. Performing La Vengadora de Las Mujeres by Lope De Vega,  this group manages to dissolve the distance between the 1600’s and today  by some theatrical magic which kept the 800 or so people in the theater absolutely attentive for the whole hour and a half. The costumes were gorgeous, the actors word perfect, reciting the rhymed words as though natural speech. The production was enhanced by the music played before, between scenes and at the end which consisted in large part of music by The Beatles, and The Band among others arranged in Renaissance style. There is sometimes a tendency for theater companies to feel compelled to set plays from the 1500’s and 1600’s in a more modern setting, or in a different time period in order to make it more relevant. While it might be tempting to try to take the essence of a Lope de  Vega play and put it in a contemporary setting, the Cambalache group shows why it is totally unnecessary. They combine acting, singing, dancing, beautiful garments to make the play as enjoyable to a contemporary audience as it was when it was written. -david sokolec