If you're a lefty anarchist, you're invited. If you're a right-wing corporatist, you're invited. If you know as much about politics as Eminem knows about Gustav Mahler, you're also invited.
"Because of the title of the festival," says Joe Perrachio, the artistic director of the Revolutions International Theatre Festival, "people often ask if this is a left-wing event. This festival has no wing. There are many definitions of the word ’revolution.' In this case, we're talking about revolutionary art, art that changes the way people view the world."
The festival kicks off this week at venues all over Albuquerque and Santa Fe, bringing some of the best experimental performers from around the world right here to New Mexico. Every year it's been claimed that the festival is bigger and better than ever, and every year it's been true. This year will likely be no exception. As part of Albuquerque's year-long 300th birthday celebration, this sixth annual installment is called "a Tricentennial celebration of world theater."
While most other Tricentennial events highlight our city's distinguished Hispanic heritage, Revolutions is bringing in acts from Canada, Thailand, Israel, South Africa and across the U.S., as well as performers from Mexico and Spain. As such, the festival celebrates Albuquerque's cultural history in the broadest, most egalitarian sense.
"If we had millions of dollars," says Perrachio, "we'd have people from everywhere, but we had to do this in broad strokes. The festival opens with a Native American troupe and closes with a Spanish one. Even chronologically, this says something about the heritage of our area, by bookending Revolutions with the two dominant cultures that identify the region. In between, there are works from a multitude of cultures."
Even more important, he says, is that these are new works, not traditional works. In this way, the festival glances back at the roots of Albuquerque's cultural heritage but also looks toward the future. "We can't escape the fact," says Perrachio, "that this is becoming an integrated world. By presenting Revolutions, we simply want to inspire creative people from different cultures into a dialogue with each other."
Over its short lifespan, Revolutions has quite possibly become the best show in town. This is cutting-edge performance in the truest sense. Watch your fingers—some of this stuff will slice right through the bone. Below you'll find a roundup of events with some tips from Perrachio for making the most of the next three weeks.
Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m.
Albuquerque Press Club
There'll be live music, catered grub and other entertainments. $5 at the door.
Raven Stole the Sun/Caribou Song
Wednesday, Jan. 11, and Thursday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m.
This Native American theater company from Toronto will present a double header, mixing dance, masks and live music. Raven Stole the Sun tells how the trickster Raven transformed himself in a plot to steal the stars, moon and sun so humans could have light. Caribou Song explains why it's necessary to embrace the spirit of animals to live in harmony with nature. "These are family shows," says Perrachio. "Bring the kids along." $20 general, $12 students.
Saturdays, Jan. 14-28, at 10:30 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
For the past decade, the Reptilian Lounge variety show has entertained late-night adult audiences by showcasing local, national and international performers. "This year marks the 10th anniversary of the lounge," says Perrachio. "We had our first one in the spring of 1996, and this maniacal late-night cabaret keeps playing to sellout audiences." You never know quite what you're going to get, but with an audience as entertaining as the performers, odds are you'll be amused. $6.77 at the door.
Thursday, Jan. 19, at 10 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
For one night only, Tricklock Company superstar Chad Brummett will present Frankenstein, a one-man teaser for a planned full production that will be part of Tricklock's 2007 season. The show will incorporate music, illusion, poetry and, best of all, puppets. "There'll be a talk-back session after this show with the audience," says Perrachio, "so Chad can get some feedback to help with revisions." $8.
Friday, Jan. 13, and Saturday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m.
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m.
Lensic Theatre (Santa Fe)
Guerrero sifts through his relationship with his father, the legendary mariachi musician Lalo Guerrero, in a one-man show that combines Chicago history with Dan's experiences as a gay man. Both funny and dramatic, some proceeds from ¡Gaytino! will benefit PFLAG New Mexico (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). "This show is about a guy who comes from a traditional Mexican family," says Perrachio, "but he grows up gay and wants to become a dancer on Broadway. It's about his struggle to become a modern artist, yet the performance itself is rooted in tradition." $25 general, $15 students. (For Lensic tickets, call 988-1234.)
Vivian Cruz and Hebe Rosell
Friday, Jan. 13, through Sunday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m.
"This one is beautifully choreographed with wonderful poetry," says Perrachio. Renowned Mexico City performers Cruz and Rosell present an ambitious staging of surrealist Argentinean poet Olga Orozco's work, focussing on Latin women's varied roles as mothers, sisters and daughters. Combining elements of magic and prophecy, the show incorporates everything from poetry to video to dance to music to visual art. $18 general, $12 students.
Acco Theatre Centre of Acco, Israel
Prayer: Sacred Dances
Thursday, Jan. 19, and Friday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m.
Orpheum Performance Space
Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m.
Wise Fool New Mexico (Santa Fe)
Composed of both Arab and Jewish performers, Acco made a well-received appearance in Albuquerque during Revolutions 2004. They're back this year with a show called Prayer: Sacred Dances, a performance incorporating Sufi dances with music based on Jewish and Muslim mystic prayers accompanied by text from Rumi, Jalal al-Din and other superstars of Sufi poetry. "In 2004," says Perrachio, "we couldn't get two of the Arab performers in the troupe into the company. Acco had to cast two UNM students in their production. This time around, we got one of the two guys into the country. It's these little victories that make Revolutions so satisfying for us. Prayer will be one of our more traditional performances in this year's festival." $18 general, $12 students. (For tickets to the Santa Fe performance, call 992-2588.)
Nigerian Spam Scam Scam
Wednesday, Jan. 18, and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m.
In a piece directed by Paul Provenza, Cameron poses as a sexually confused Florida millionaire who engages in a nine-month e-mail correspondence with one of those annoying Nigerian cyber scam artists. "He uses the transcripts of his actual e-mail exchange as they're trying to get money out of him," says Perrachio. There'll be two men on stage with laptops. Victor Isaac plays the puzzled Nigerian scam artist. This hilarious performance got rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in 2004 and 2005. It should be a hoot. $18 general, $12 students. (For tickets to the Santa Fe performance, call 992-2588.)
Billy the Mime
Wednesday, Jan. 18, and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 10 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21, at 8 p.m.
Wise Fool New Mexico.
You might remember Billy from his astonishing performance in the recent hit film, The Aristocrats. During this Revolutions appearance, he'll use his miming talents to comment on current hot-button issues as well as historical events and people. No words can describe this. "This one's definitely for adults only," says Perrachio. "Anybody bored by mime won't be bored with this." $18 general, $12 students. (For tickets to the Santa Fe performance, call 992-2588.)
The Glorious & Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid—The Greatest Serial Killer of our Time! A Wild West Show & Cabaret
Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21, at 8 p.m.
The Tricklock Company brings a little senseless violence to UNM's Rodey Theatre stage with The Glorious & Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid. They've toured this show around the world to audiences who have been both appalled and thrilled by this surreal interpretation of Billy the Kid's biography. Chances are you've seen an earlier version of this shoot-'em-up doozie right here in Albuquerque. The performance at the Rodey features a brand new version. "We've rewritten the show," says Perrachio, "condensing it, bringing it back here after two international tours. We've found people around the world to be really interested in what Americans think of America, especially since so much information about us is filtered through the media. To see people show up and do a show about one of our most famous folk heroes, it makes people realize we're a culture of thoughtful people, capable of questioning our own behavior and values." Load up the six-shooter and head on down. This little doggie's sure to stir up trouble. $15 general, $12 students.
Friday, Jan. 20, at 10 p.m.
Best known for his role as Dr. Philip Capra on the hit TV show "Northern Exposure," Paul Provenza is also an accomplished stand-up comedian, and he'll do his hilarious shtick at the Guild. "This is a benefit for Tricklock," says Perrachio. "It's also a CD and DVD release party for The Aristrocrats, which Paul directed." $12 general, $10 students.
Sunday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m.
"I was sitting on a beach in Greece on my honeymoon and got to thinking about how rarely people get to sit down with each other these days just to bat ideas around," says Perrachio. The result of that oceanside musing is Salon Sunday, in which local and international provocateurs will get together to discuss inventions, read from essays, poems and plays, and present off-the-cuff ideas. Perrachio says there'll be music, food and hookahs. Bring whatever you've got cooking and bring it down for a good public chewing. This event is free.
Albuquerque Youth Poetry Slam-Off
Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
ABQ Slam, which organized the National Poetry Slam here in Albuquerque last August, has pulled together this competition to determine which teen poets will be sent to the Brave New Voices youth poetry slam tournament in New York City later this year. Idris Goodwin (see below) will kick off the match by reading an original poem. $8.
I Have An Agenda
Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m.
Hip-hop poet and playwright Idris Goodwin of Chicago's Hermit Arts Theatre will present an evening of poetry from his latest collection. Then, aided by a live DJ, he'll dish out some songs from his current and forthcoming hip-hop CDs. Goodwin's play Braising was selected for the 2005 National New Plays Showcase at Stanford University. The Tricklock Company, in collaboration with Hermit Arts, will stage it in the spring of this year. $15 general, $12 students.
Kevin R. Elder
Black River Falling
Thursday, Jan. 26, at 10 p.m.
Tricklock Performance Space
Tricklock Company member Kevin R. Elder presents another Tricklock work in progress for one night only. Based on a series of mysterious deaths that took place during the 19th century, Black River Falling incorporates music and puppetry with minimal text. Perrachio says this one has an all-woman cast and will feature a feedback session with the audience after the show. $8.
Boyzie Cekwana's The Floating Outfit Project
Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m.
South Broadway Cultural Center
As in past festivals, Global DanceFest will join forces with Revolutions to offer up a performance from a cutting-edge international dance troupe. The Floating Outfit Project is based in Soweto, South Africa. Ja'nee comments on such aspects of African life as male dominance, AIDS and violence. Rona is inspired by Japanese Butoh dance and celebrates South African spiritual identity. Both are choreographed by Boyzie Cekwana, who also performs along with the troupe's dancers. "Once again, for the third year in a row, we're collaborating with Global DanceFest," says Perrachio. "The Floating Outfit Project could be described as contemporary dance loosely inspired by traditional African forms." $20 general, $12 students.
Witness Relocation Company/Patravadi Theatre
In a Hall in the Palace of Pyrrhus
Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.
Witness Relocation Company of New York City and Patravadi Theatre of Bangkok are collaborating on a performance loosely based on Jean Racine's post-Trojan War tale, Andromaque. This show presents the kind of cultural bridging that Perrachio sees as the foundation of Revolutions. "This is movement and music theater drawing on modern contemporary American styles of theater blended with sword dances from Thailand," he says. "It's definitely one of the most interesting pieces in the festival." $20 general, $12 students.
Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 9 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m.
Spanish troupe Teatro Titzina caps off this year's Revolutions International Theatre Festival with a fusion of clowning, dance, music and other theatrical forms. Entrañas, which means "entrails," explores the nightmare of modern global warfare through the lens of highly physical theater. "These actors trained at Lecoque, the renowned physical theater institute in Paris," says Perrachio. "It's a very moving piece about the nature of war. We're very lucky to get them." $18 general, $12 students.