Friday, July 03, 2015

Teatro Sin Fronteras in New Orleans

 Melinda Palacio

José Torres-Tama
When José Torres-Tama asked me to be a part of his Teatro Sin Fronteras, a 10 year commemoration of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing contribution of Latinos to New Orleans, I had no idea the reading would be unlike any other in the Big Easy. What's remarkable about this series of presentations is the variety in each show. Jose likens the events to "a moveable feast" in that the venues change, there are different artistic offerings, poetry, dance, art, music, performance art, and there's delicious comida, catered by Sarita's grill. José is able to offer all these events to the public free of charge, while paying each artist through a grant from Alternate Roots, Partners in Action and Jose Torres Tama and ArteFuturo Productions. So far this season has seven different shows. Teatro Sin Fronteras partners with Puentes New Orleans and there just might be future iterations of the series.
Melinda Palacio

A few days before the show, José asked me to join him for a radio interview with Diane Mack on WWNO's Inside the Arts program. I learned that Diane Mack has been following José's one-man acts for over twenty years. Born in Ecuador, raised in New York, José has been in New Orleans since the mid-1980s. Many of his performance pieces are lyrical in their own right and are included in his first full-length poetry collection, Immigrant Dreams AlienNightmares, Diálogos Books 2014.
The Old Marquer Theatre in the Faubourg Marigny

Performing first in Tuesday's show allowed me to sit back and enjoy the rest of the outstanding performances. The Old Marquer Theatre used to be named the Shadow Box Theatre, but before that it was Marquer Drugs.
Maritza Mercado-Narcisse

Maritza Mercado-Narcisse performed a spellbinding dance to La Llorona. Her choreography showed a willingness to pair risk with fluid movements.  

Denise Frazier with art by Cynthia Ramirz in background

In Cynthia Ramirez's artist talk, she provided the background for her original art which is part of her search for raza. She described herself as a Pocha from Virginia who didn't speak Spanish and didn't discover her Chicana roots until she arrived in New Orleans. For her, Aztlán is in the port city of New Orleans.

While José's work was featured in the Short Film Mardi Gras as Public Healing Ritual for the Wounded New Orleans, it was in the live sketches where his work shines. I've seen him perform from his repertoire before, but this was the first time I saw him accompanied by Violinist Denise Frazier. Her playing exuded a haunting beauty that worked especially well with José's sketch where he channels a woman escaping from Nicaragua.
Intimos w Blake Amos & Leo Oliveira

The evening ended with Brazilian music by Intimos with Blake Amos and Leo Oliveira. I had the opportunity to ask Leo what he thought about the whole experience. Leo played the Cavaquinho (a small acoustic guitar used in samba) and the Surdo (Drum). Some of the songs the duo performed were Tive Razao by Seu jorge, Dindi by Tom Jobim and Ive Brussel by Jorge Ben Jor. Leo said it was his first time performing at Teatro Sin Frontera with José Torres-Tama.

"It was nice to perform at a place where people were actually paying attention to the artists. I was very impressed by the quality of the event. In Brazil, we do something similar and we call “Sarau”. I am not sure about the meaning of the word, but that’s when people get together to express themselves artistically."

The next series of Teatro Sin Fronteras takes place at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center. 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans at 7pm. Admission is $5 at the door and the comida will be catered by Sarita's grill on Freret. For more info on Teatro Sin Fronteras, contact José Torres-TamaTeatro Sin Fronteras is also part of José's arts project, ALIENS Taco Truck Theatre Project.

Future events include:
July 21 at Ashé Cultural Center from 7-9 pm and features Odile Nicole De Giudice, Jennifer Pagan, A Scribe Called Quess, Pastor Oscar Ramos, Roberto Carrillo, Omaira Falcom, José Torres-Tama, and Denise Frazier. 
August 11 at the Arts Estuary 1024
August 18 at the Old Marquer Theatre
August 25 at the Old Marquer Theatre


Unknown said...

Yikes! The creativity is palpable- great to share this experience with you - gracias!

Jose Carrillo said...

Melinda Palacio- mil gracias for this inspiring post- shows how it's possible to re-imagine the uses of teatro- I'm hoping that our indio blood & spirit will inject new energy into the fabulous invalid that USA theatre is becoming. Viva Teatro Sin Fronteras!