Sunday, July 22, 2012

Teatro Avante: XXVII International Hispanic Theatre Festival (reviews)

Teatro Avante opened the XXVII International Hispanic Theatre Festival on July 12, 2012.
The acclaimed International Hispanic Theatre Festival (IHTF) of Miami, presented by Teatro Avante, American Airlines, the festival’s official airline, the Adrienne Arsht Center and its producing and academic partner, Prometeo Theatre of Miami Dade College, is celebrating its 27th season by presenting some of the best theatre companies from Latin America, Europe and the United States in various locations in Miami and Key Biscayne, July 12 – 29, 2012.

We are privileged to announce that this year the award-winning IHTF of Miami honors U.S. LATINO THEATRE in recognition and admiration of our country's preservation and contribution to Hispanic culture.

Join us as we, once again, raise the curtain on Hispanic Culture.
Because of the nature of programming, we will collate all the reviews of all the plays in this one article.

Chris Joseph attended the opening production for The Miami New Times:
An actor whipping out his genitals is one hell of a way to kick off a theater festival, but it was Teatro Avante's choice for opening the 27th annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival (IHTF). The scene is part of Short Eyes, the legendary Puerto Rican poet Miguel Piñero's chilling 1974 play about inmates confronting a child rapist in a New York jail. Its staging at this year's festival was both a stroke of brilliance and fortunate timing, given that news had just broken that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had covered up an assistant's years of sexually assaulting boys.
Short Eyes, performed by the L.A.-based Urban Theatre Movement, might just be the festival's highlight. The staggering production was peppered with dark humor and viscerally intense moments. The story is based largely on the playwright's experiences in Sing Sing, where he served time for armed robbery. The inmates, led by Longshoe — portrayed brilliantly by veteran character actor Mark Rolston, who incidentally played Bogs, the inmate who wanted to rape Tim Robbins's Andy Dufresne in the 1994 film Shawshank Redemption — torment white, middle-class Clark, the prisoner sentenced for raping a young girl. They viciously beat him and then plot his murder in the shower. The sexual politics and unnerving portrayal of violence made for fantastic theater.
Celeste Fraser Gelgado  reviewed Nada Del Amor Me Produce Envidía (I Don’t Envy Love) for The Miami Herald: enthusiastic crowd filled the Prometeo Theater for I Don’t Envy Love, which has been running in Buenos Aires with Merlino as the star since its debut there in October 2008 (she had to fly back in time for her weekly Saturday performance).
Merlino enlisted writer Santiago Loza and her husband, director Diego Lerman, to build I Don’t Envy Love around seven famous tangos of the era...  In a brilliant move, the play does not represent the romantic drama of Lamarque’s songs and films. Instead, the songs the seamstress loves are a counterpoint to her mundane and loveless life.
Merlino’s performance is both hilarious and poignant.
Not a single person left when the play ended. Instead, everyone stayed in their seats for the post-performance chat, eager to share their own reminiscences about Lamarque and, like the seamstress, bathe a little longer in her light.
Teatro Avante presents The XXVII International Hispanic Theater Festival at various venues in Miami through July 29, 2012.

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