Any of you whiners still complaining that we're culturally isolated out here in New Mexico should shut your pie holes. There's plenty going on in these parts. To take yet another example, consider the 2004 Revolutions International Theatre Festival.
For the fourth year in a row, the fine folks at the Tricklock Company have scoured the entire face of the globe to find some of the best experimental theater on the planet. This year, the festival presents even more of a cultural exchange than in years past.
One of the highlights of the 2004 festival occurs during the first week when Acco Theatre Center of Israel presents two performances, Arab Dreams and Anthology. The group is made up of both Arabs and Israelis. Arab Dreams, in particular, will dive into some of the social and cultural intricacies of the Middle East.
"The idea behind that particular play," says Joe Pesce, director of the festival, "is to examine how these two cultures live and don't live together. To see how they view each other through all kinds of cultural stereotypes and to explore the potential for them to live together." Each of the Acco Theatre Center's performances will be followed by a discussion with the audience.
At the Outpost Performance Space, New York City poet and performer Vanessa Hidary will offer up Culture Bandit, a theatrical look at cultural appropriation.
During the festival's second week, Akhe Russian Engineering Theatre from St. Petersberg, Russia, makes an appearance at the Rodey to perform White Cabin, a radically experimental, ritualistic performance piece influenced by silent film.
New York City choreographer Stephen Petronio will bring his company to Albuquerque during the third week of the festival to perform City of Twist, a look at his hometown after 9-11.
Hip hop artist Jonzi D from London will deliver Lyrikal Fearta, which presents urban tales told through the eyes of a young Black man. The Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team and Prophet Productions will open this performance.
Interspersed throughout the festival's three-week run will be performances by Tricklock Company members and a special edition of the Tricklock's Saturday night variety show, The Reptilian Lounge. There will also be several panel discussions with international guests and local artists.
According to Pesce, organizing the festival has been difficult, largely because tightened post-9-11 security makes it a tricky undertaking to usher all these international performers into the United States. Even so, this bold, ambitious event seems to have come together nicely.
“Our real goal with this is not to present political theater,” says Pesce, “but a discussion for three weeks with the community about theater's role in making the world a better place. Theater is not just entertainment. It has a place in our evolution as a society.”