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 V.25 No.1 | January 7 - 13, 2016 

Culture Shock

Around the World in 21 Days

Three week festival brings theater from four continents to Albuquerque

Emily Climbs (Machine Méchant)
Scott Eslinger
Emily Climbs (Machine Méchant)

“Not everyone has the luxury of being able to travel. Finances, family obligations, schedules, et cetera, make it difficult, but Revolutions is a different way of traveling,” Juli Hendren wrote to me a few days after Christmas. I was marooned in the Midwest by snowstorms so we took the opportunity to chat via e-mail about theater, travel and connection. With travel plans and interviews thwarted, the idea of the world coming to visit me in the dark of Tricklock’s theater sounded attractive. Hendren is the Festival Curator for 2016’s Revolutions, a fete that brings theater from around the country and around the world to the Albuquerque community. “For me, it’s about connection,” she wrote—the connection that a well written, acted and directed play can illuminate under the stage lights—that we’re all human, and we have a lot to teach each other.

“We don’t have to all be the same or agree, but allowing space for stories and experiences with people from different countries and cultures brings us together,” Hendren elaborated. This year, Tricklock is gathering a wide array of performances in Albuquerque—there are troupes visiting from Poland and Palestine, New York and Scotland and Colombia—and the content of their pieces vary just as widely as the performers’ geographic homes. Here, the players broach topics that include imperialism, motherhood, violence and psychosis in innovative and creative ways. 48 Minutes for Palestine, a play produced by Ashtar Theatre of Ramallah, for example, tells the story of a woman who lives in her home in peace until a man shows up with a suitcase and declares that the property is his. The entirety of the story is told wordlessly, through physical movement and original music. Another piece, Butcher Holler Here We Come by Aztec Economy out of New York City, tells the story of five miners who are stranded underground after a collapse. “The only lights in the show are their headlamps. It’s very poetic and rich,” Hendren described. “Tricklock Company and the bulk of the work we do is deeply rooted in investigation,” she said, “we try to examine the human experience through our work.” Revolutions is a beautiful and profound extension of that core mission.

Aztec Economy
Scott Eslinger
Members of NYC’s Aztec Economy perform in Butcher Holler Here We Come

[48 Minutes for Palestine] was made especially for an international audience,” Ashtar Theatre's General Director, Edward Muallem, said of the play, which will be performed during the second week of Revolutions. The play's director, Mohisda Adebayo elaborated, “I often feel English can be rather dishonest … I wanted to create a piece of work for people outside [of Palestine], to give an image of occupation without words.” I wrote to the members of Ashtar Theatre from Indiana, and they answered from Jerusalem. I asked them why they developed a play for an audience overseas. Adebayo answered, “I have worked in Palestine on various projects over the past 14 years. In that time I've seen an intense increase in the level of oppression. I am constantly impressed by people's resistance through friendship and art. But when I go home [to Britain] I am … surprised by how little people know about the situation.” To extend a fraction of the experience lived by thousands of people in Palestine and foster understanding between cultures, Ashtar Theatre is delivering this transcendent performance to audiences internationally.

“The … mission of the festival comes down to the belief that exposure to world theater and culture increases mutual understanding, inspires change and empowers individuals to improve the overall quality of life for all people,” Hendren wrote. The scope of Revolutions and the convictions of its organizers make the programming expansive, thoughtful and just as progressive and boundary-pushing as all of Tricklock’s productions. For Tricklock’s contribution to the fest, the troupe will revisit Her Murder Ballad, a play with great scope that first opened in the fall, which incorporates song and movement into its unique structure and inquiry into violence and passion. “Our work is raw and constantly evolving because the experiment never really stops,” Hendren said of returning to the work. In addition, Tricklock’s long-running cabaret and variety show The Reptilian Lounge will be incorporated into Revolutions, as will improv from neighboring theater, The Box.

“I love Albuquerque,” Hendren said when asked about the emotional heart of Revolutions. “We all do at Tricklock. It raised us, supported us, made us who we are today. It’s important to us to bring the work we are experiencing out in the world back to the people of Albuquerque.” And that is, in part, how Revolutions started 16 years ago. The festival will continue to expand as Tricklock members have recently received a grant that will allow them to scout productions in Bogotá for the festival next year.

In the intimate performance spaces and workshops of Revolutions, Tricklock presents living artifacts from around the country and the world that provide an opportunity to learn, gain understanding and cultivate a global perspective on art. “Artistic diplomacy is critical, now more than ever,” Hendren wrote as she wrapped up her e-mail to me. “I think Revolutions is an important part of that work.”

Revolutions 2016 embarks on Tuesday, Jan. 12, with a kickoff party. A schedule of performances and tickets are available at tricklock.com.

Revolutions 2016
Jan. 12 to Jan. 30
Tricklock Performance Laboratory
110 Gold Ave. SW
tricklock.com
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