Latino Theater Company presents RE:Encuentro 2021, a virtual, national Latinx theater festival featuring 16 companies and performers from across the U.S. in “digital residence” at The Los Angeles Theatre Center from Thurs., Nov. 12 through Sun., Nov. 21. Streaming performances and panels can be experienced for free via Latino Theater Company’s online platform at www.latinotheaterco.org.
“Encuentro” is the Spanish word for “meeting.” In addition to performances and panel discussions that will be open to the public, participating artists will work together during the residency to share creative methodologies in private workshops. RE:Encuentro 2021 follows on the heels of previous Latino Theater Company festivals, including a national Encuentro in 2014 and an international Encuentro de las Americas in 2017.
The schedule of festival events that will be open to the public is as follows:
Fri., Nov. 12 at 6 p.m.:
- RE:Encuentro 2021 kicks off with a streaming performance of Whittier Boulevard, a new ensemble-devised work-in-progress by festival host Latino Theater Company (Los Angeles). Employing its trademark blend of comedy, drama, music, dance, and theatrical magic, the company takes us to Los Angeles, 2042. Years of fires, torrential rain, anarchy, and bloodshed have led to a totalitarian city-state where the elderly disappear, their stories forgotten. On the eve of her 75th birthday, faded Chicana starlet Veronica Del Rio enlists the help of her loud-mouth nurse, a kind-hearted policeman fan and a down-on-his-luck poet. Will Veronica find love before it’s too late?
Sat., Nov. 13 at 6 p.m.:
- Calle de la Resistencia is a musical film from Carrero Creatives (Los Angeles) about the struggle of the Puerto Rican people to regain their dignity. Real-life footage is blended with a staged musical production, shot during the Covid-19 pandemic, that features 20 original songs. The story of nine Puerto Ricans whose lives are forever changed by Hurricane Maria picks up the pieces of a tragic history and transforms them into hope.
Sun., Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.:
- Entre tu familia y tu corazón…who are you going to be? The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, adapted by Tlaloc Rivas from Sonia Manzano’s award-winning young adult novel and featuring original music and songs by Sartje Pickett, tells the story of a young Latina keeping two secrets from her family—her true feelings about growing up in Spanish Harlem, and her attitude about her grandmother who has come from Puerto Rico to live with them. Through a series of events as sudden as an earthquake, Evelyn learns important truths about her Latin identity, her family, and the history-makers who shaped the Nuyorican identity forever. Presented by Los Rivax Project (Pittsburgh).
- What does distance mean to you during a pandemic? Moriviví Theatre (Portland, Ore.) explores feelings of isolation, separation anxiety, and loneliness in Distancias, a devised digital theater project created and performed by Latinx artists Geo Alva, Robi Arce, and Michael Cavazos.
Mon., Nov. 15 at 12 p.m.:
- The murals, the music, the taqueros and tamaleros and lowrider parades, the gardens, the hills, the arroyo and, most of all, the people: Highland Park Is Here takes us on a virtual journey from York to Figueroa and the Arroyo, from yesterday to tomorrow, from fact to fantasy, all told through the stories of the people who live there. Performed by a cast of locals from Highland Park, students from Occidental College, and Cornerstone Theater Company (Los Angeles).
Mon., Nov. 15 at 3:30 p.m.:
- Live-streamed panel discussion presented in partnership with Howlround: “Reclaiming Your Culture: Creating Narratives Beyond Stereotypes.”
Mon., Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.:
- In (Un)Documents, presented by Teatro Audaz (San Antonio, Tex.), award-winning actor and poet Jesús I. Valles journeys across both sides of a river with two names, moving between languages to find their place in a nation that demands sacrifice at the altar of citizenship. In doing so, they create a new kind of documentation written with anger, fierce love, and the knowledge that what makes us human can never be captured on a government questionnaire. (Un)Documents is a multiple B. Iden Payne Award winner for outstanding actor in a drama (Valles), outstanding director of a drama (Rudy Ramirez), and outstanding original script, and it was named one of Robert Faires’s “Top10 Theatrical Treasurers of 2018” in the Austin Chronicle. Currently celebrating its sixth season in residence at the Public Theater of San Antonio. Teatro Audaz presents diverse monolingual and bilingual theater in a bold, audacious, and fearless way.
- Paletas de Coco is an exploration of the meaning of fatherhood in all its complexities by playwright/performer Franky D. Gonzalez (Dallas, T), as he searches for his biological father across four Christmas eves and three generations. Coconut popsicles, Santería, buffet robbing, wagers with life-and-death stakes, childbirth and so much else in between.
Tues., Nov. 16 at 12 p.m.:
- Inspired by Gustavo Arellano’s ¡Ask a Mexican! column and adapted for the stage by Anthony J. García for Su Teatro (Denver, C), Interview with a Mexican rolls up live music, video, projections, dance, satire, humor, and political incorrectness into one juicy taco, exploring stereotypes, anti-immigration politics and misconceptions about Mexican culture along the way. The third-oldest Chicano theater company in the U.S. (only Teatro Campesino and Teatro de la Esperanza precede it), Su Teatro has established a national reputation for homegrown productions that continue to speak to the living history and experience of Chicanos and all Americans.
Tues., Nov. 16 at 3:30 p.m.:
- Live-streamed panel discussion presented in partnership with Howlround: “Reframing How We View Immigration Through Art.”
Tues., Nov. 16 at 6 p.m.:
- Teatro Alebrijes (San Jose, Ca.) explodes legacies of homophobia by celebrating our jotería of yesterday, today and tomorrow in Canción de cuna para un niño herido / Lullaby for a Wounded Boy by Rodrigo García and Ugho Badú. Following a one-night stand, a young gay man faces his fears about HIV and AIDS in a febrile dream, where he encounters historical characters and situations including La Santa Inquisición, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, General Zapata, and María Fé Performed in Spanish with English subtitles. Teatro Alebrijes is a one-of-a-kind theater ensemble that produces plays inspired by the queer Latinx experience.
Weds., Nov. 17 at 12 p.m.:
- Commissioned by the award-winning 24th Street Theatre (Los Angeles), the company’s 2018 world premiere production of ICE is a bilingual, humorous journey in search of what it means to be “” Two baseball players from Sinaloa, Mexico, arrive in the U.S. with big dreams—but no documents. Armed with their Tía’s famous salsa recipe, the pair works day and night to make their taco truck the “Uncle Sam” of mobile restaurants. Will a contest to be “the most American food truck” at Dodger Stadium for the 4th of July prove to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that they belong?
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Weds., Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m.:
- Live-streamed panel discussion presented in partnership with Howlround: “Latinx Queer Voices in Theatre.”
Weds., Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.:
- Part performance, part mental wellness resource exchange, Good Grief, written and performed by Melissa DuPrey (Chicago) is a warm, loving, and unflinching reflection of DuPrey’s life with her single mother, who struggled with bipolar disorder, a condition that went undiagnosed until five years before her untimely death. DuPrey recounts her complicated path toward healing and survival in times when there were little-to-no resources for her or her mother. By recounting how she draws on community and spiritual traditions in her own healing journey, Good Grief is a response to the trauma that perpetuates intergenerational violence in communities of color and demands new frameworks for self and community care.
Thurs., Nov. 18 at 12 p.m.:
- Multidisciplinary artist Elisa Noemí, a self-described “Guategringa” of Guatemalan and German-American descent, weaves poetry, puppetry, music, and movement to explore bicultural identity, anorexia, and recovery in ENOF: Ya Basta. With whimsical playfulness, Noemí challenges the expectations that surround mental health and cultural identity; inviting audiences to step out of the boxes society tries so hard to keep us in. Presented by Casa Verde Collective (Los Angeles).
Thurs., Nov. 18 at 3:30 p.m.:
- Live-streamed panel discussion presented in partnership with Howlround: “Healing and Grief.”
Thurs., Nov. 18 at 6 p.m.:
- “We are dust and to dust we shall return.” Gabriel G Torres and The Tank NYC (New York) present Haus of Dust, a coming-of-age fantastical docu-mixed media installation by Gabriel G Torres. Enter the abysm, a bar in a world between the living and the dead, where selected souls will entertain you with stories about their lives before they overdosed. The story of G, a writer learning to cope with his personal journey as an immigrant, a gay man and a substance user, touches on themes of trauma, violence, spirituality, grief, sacred South American plants, and overcoming with resilience.
Fri., Nov. 19 at 12 p.m.:
- In Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?, writer, performer, civil rights lawyer and journalist Irma Herrera (San Francisco) weaves lessons from American history and laugh-out-loud comic insights into stories about names. Shedding light and throwing shade on societal prejudices and assumptions, Herrera illuminates the toll that stereotyping and dehumanization take on individuals and communities.
Fri., Nov. 19 at 3:30 p.m.:
- Live-streamed panel discussion presented in partnership with Howlround: “Afro Latinidad.”
Fri., Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.:
- Writer/performer Marga Gomez (San Francisco), returns to The Los Angeles Theatre Center, where she was last seen as part of Encuentro 2017, with Spanking Machine, her sometimes funny, sometimes painful memoir of growing up brown and queer in Washington Heights, New York City. Dulce de Leche, sadistic nuns on poppers, a Cubana mother’s loud postnasal drip, childhood pranks, sexual assault, and suppressed memory play their parts in Marga’s shift across gender, latitudes, and generations.
Sat., Nov. 20 at 3:30 p.m.:
- Live-streamed panel discussion presented in partnership with Howlround: “Celebrating Latino Culture Through Music.”
Sat., Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.:
- The dream of becoming an artist and the risk of breaking with family in pursuit of that dream brings four Cuban artists together for one night at a club in San Francisco in We Have Iré, a multidisciplinary theater work by award-winning poet, performance artist, and playwright Paul S. Flores. Presented by Pregones Theater and Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (Bronx, N.Y.), We Have Iré celebrates the triumph of immigrant voices in a new country through live Cuban jazz, traditional Yoruba songs and dance, Latinx hip-hop, and spoken word.
The final day of the festival, Sun., Nov. 21, will offer opportunities for participating companies and artists to meet with one another and wrap up virtually.
Each of the public events will remain available to view on demand for ten days following the initial festival streaming date. Admission to all public events is free at www.latinotheaterco.org.
Eric A. Gordon