Alameda Theatre’s De Colores Festival stages readings of new works to keep your eyes peeled for
The festival – held on October 11th and 12th – features work-in-progress by Latino-Canadians. I had the privilege of attending Thursday night.
The venue is a marvel of repurposed space. Wychwood Barns used to be where streetcars were held.
Pushing open the front door, a visitor is in a huge covered space. To take a guess, it’s easily as wide as a streetcar is long, and stretches about as long as a football field.
It’s – surprisingly, refreshingly – vacant. Off to either side are studios and offices. And near the end, a theatre.
Beyond the ordinary-sized door to the latter, is a seemingly sky-high space, with a few padded benches that are steeply raked. So the playing area is galactic in scale.
This is where two works went up as staged readings: Arrested by Jose Arias, and; La Danza del Venado by Ari Belathar.
Arrested was performed by Santiago Garcia, Rosalba Martinni, Sebastian Marczak, Kevin Whelan, and Jessica Zepeda.
Although it deals with highly specific experiences including coming-out-of-the-closet, immigrating to Canada from El Salvador, and acquiring HIV/AIDS, Arias with dramaturge Erica Kopyto, explores all this with such illuminating clarity, I found myself totally engrossed.
Plus, the cast is a highly likable, talented assemblage. They gave just the right amount of tenderness to the text, while – as per a staged reading – neither indulging in emotional dramatization nor wavering from a recitation that is even in tempo.
La Danza del Venado by journalist and poet Ari Belathar had me laughing. Something I wasn’t expecting from a work in which a group of Mexicans cross illegally into the U.S.
But there are many light rejoinders and moments of childish innocence – two of the characters are kids – to add buoyancy to its serious subject.
The story follows their passage across a precarious desert. Moon-like in its extremes and topology, by the end of the work, it left me with a vivid impression of Hell.
La Danza del Venado featured performances by Rolando Alvarez Giacoman, Gilda Monreal, Edsson Morales, Julio Espina, Mayahuel Tecozautla, and Francisco Trujilo.