You don’t have to celebrate Samhain as a card-carrying Wiccan to feel the bone chill in the air as life’s wheel rotates into winter with lengthening shadows and shortening days. You might easily sense the ghostly chasm narrow between the living realm and the dead at this time of the year. US culture trivializes the transition with humor and caricature, focus on consumerism; other cultures celebrate life’s passage through darkness with altars and performances honoring the dead. Teatro Dallas presents two stage works through November 17, one theatre and one dance, a ”Days of the Dead” homage to the memory of Jesse Tafalla.
Prolific Chilean playwright Jorge Diaz created more than ninety stage works before he died in 2007; many composed as social and political satire. Teatro Dallas premieres a first time English translation of Diaz’s “The Scar”, a political allegory about the persecution, torture and repression of Latin Americans under the cruel dictatorship of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet. Haunting and suspenseful, this play provides ample opportunity for a skilled, talented actor to weave a complex, heart-wrenching tale about relationship and betrayal under Pinochet’s rule, while he celebrates a friend’s passing with a crude “wake.” Aztlan-based performance artist, poet, actor-director and activist Rodney Garza gives a gripping performance in his Teatro Dallas debut. His evocative delivery of a complex eulogy/ confession by seedy character Juan Venegas teems with outrage, harangue and mournful caress, addressed to his best friend lying silent and still in a somber casket that dominates his humble dwelling. Garza’s intense, mesmerizing performance pulls a gritty reality through the allegorical sense of the work while expressing its poetic art with an air of lyrical naturalism. Part priest, part supplicant, Juan reveals a gruesome secret as the play progresses. An eternity of grief and guilt rains down with beads of sweat from Garza’s face in his masterful portrayal, intimately personal yet clearly representative of the suffering of a “scarred” nation. It’s a noteworthy triumph of actor’s craft and creativity, directed and adapted by Teatro Dallas’ Artistic Director Cora Cordona.
The Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG) opens the Teatro Dallas Days of the Dead performance with “The Elegant Ghost”, a modern dance macabre “waltz” for three dancers (Sarah Dye, Gabriel King, Nanci Mendoza).
They almost defy gravity as they lunge, lurch and glide in zombie-like trance to an original William Duckworth composition. UTDallas PhD student Danielle Georgiou directs and choreographs this whimsical collaboration in sound and movement that left this theatre critic pining for more. Together, these works offer a stimulating, intriguing evening’s worth of unique performance art.
Teatro Dallas’ “Days of the Dead” run through November 17, 2012. www.teatrodallas.org 214-689-6492
Photos by Alisa Levy
Also posted on content partner Theater Jones