Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Latino theater group plans festival

Teatro Dallas reaches across the globe for 14th International Theater Festival
By Lawson Taitte, The Dallas Morning News

Feb. 6--Unsurprisingly, Dallas' most cosmopolitan theater artist produces one of its most cosmopolitan artistic events. Cora Cardona put together Teatro Dallas' 14th International Theater Festival, which opens tonight at the Latino Cultural Center.

Cardona's own roots are in Mexico and Costa Rica. Since founding Teatro Dallas in 1985, she has been traveling all over Latin America and Europe to participate in festivals as a producer, performer and speaker. The contacts she has made there have helped her bring productions from at least 13 countries -- from Canada to Brazil, from Ukraine to Japan -- to Dallas since 1993.

This year's four-week festival includes companies from Mexico and Spain performing in Spanish and from Belgium performing in French. Puerto Rico-born Miami performance artist Teo Castellanos will provide the grand finale with one of his one-man plays, co-presented with the South Dallas Cultural Center.

"Because I grew up in Mexico, I understand the Mexican-American connection. But that's not where I stay," Cardona says. "It's about Africa. It's about Asia. It's about the world."

After the terrorist attacks in 2001, it became more difficult to bring foreign artists into the country. Cardona had to cancel her 2002 festival, and since then the event takes place every other year, rather than annually. She says that the visa situation has eased, at least for the distinguished professionals she imports. These days the difficulty in putting together the festival lies in the troubled economy.

"I had a hard time raising the money for the festival, because there's a feeling that what funds there are should go to local artists," Cardona says. "But I felt that Dallas deserves to be more sophisticated and international."

So this year's festival features work by one of Mexico's hottest new writers, Edgar Chias. A visit to a festival in Liege, Belgium, put Cardona in contact with a highly lauded theater there; the adaptation of a Kafka short story it is bringing to Dallas has earned raves all over Europe and the Middle East. Teatro also likes to include an educational component: The prominent Mexican acting teacher Alejandro Moran has been giving workshops to Dallas artists all this week.

Cardona has managed to do all this on a tight budget by keeping the productions she brings in small -- this year, from one to three performers.

"Once you get into the international circuit and your work is good, that's going to create interest," she says. "If your show is economical, requiring minimal resources, all the better."Plan your life

Benito antes de Juarez by Fenix Producciones (Mexico), 8:15 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday. Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak.

Communication a une Academie by Theâtre Universitaire Royale de Liège (Belgium), Feb. 13 and 14. Teatro Dallas, 1331 Record Crossing.

El Corazon de Antigona by Teatro Abrego (Spain), Feb. 20 and 21. Latino Cultural Center.

NE 2nd Ave with Teo Castellanos (U.S.), Feb. 27 and 28. Latino Cultural Center.

All shows $15 to $20. 214-689-6492. www.teatro dallas.org.

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