Our artistic neighbors from Mexico are bringing their beautiful culture, art, and point of view on border politics to OtB this Novbember 8 - 11. I am personally so excited for the perspective this performance is going to offer us! I really am. Here are some basics, some background, about the company and it's director to lay some ground work for Amarillo.
1. Teatro Línea de Sombra is a Mexican theater company which was founded in 1993 by a group of artists committed to exploring contemporary theater. They have unquestionably succeeded, and are currently regarded as one of the most renowned Mexican contemporary theater companies, being awarded the Best Research Theater of Mexico in both 2000 and 2005. The company has collaborated with an international cast of directors, performed in theaters and festivals around the world, and is permanently touring Mexico.
2. Amarillo is directed by the prominent Mexican director, Jorge A. Vargas. Vargas started engaging in political theater when he was studying at the University of Mexico in the 1970s. After graduating from university, he moved to France and studied under Jerzy Grotowski, a seminal director known for his development of ‘poor theater’, which focused on stripping theater down to its essential elements: the actor, the audience, and the theater space, in order to purify and revivify the theater (especially in the wake of film). However, for Vargas, his time abroad was influential but not in line with his interest in directing political theater and Amarillo is a return to his original directorial passions.
3. One of Vargas’ goals as a director is to “create actions – not stories”. In a quote from an interview Vargas states: “An actor who constructs, does not interpret- the actor is not trying to be dramatic”. There is physicality—a constructive exploration and signification at play in Vargas’ work. He gives the example of someone taking clothes and using them to build ‘bodies’. The construction, he says, gave form to the dead.
4. The objects used in the staging of Amarillo are inexpensive objects, like water jugs, sand, and candles. The jugs refer to water stations in the desert, where water drums or jugs are left for border crossers along known passages through deserts along the border. Some of the objects used in the show are part of the ‘kits’ people use to illegally cross the border into Mexico. Kits commonly consist of a back pack, running shoes, tuna, lemons, pain killers, water and a loaf of bread. The border crossers sometimes walk up to 80 kilometers a day with just these kits for survival.
5. Teatro Línea de Sombra has performed Amarillo in the US only a few times before—too bad, since it offers such a powerful and pertinent interpretation of US/Mexico border politics. On this international tour that takes Amarillo through South America, the US, France and Finland, Seattle is one of only four lucky US cities who can see Amarillo performed this fall!