CASA Festival of Latin American Arts
A Vibrant Cocktail from Award Winning Theatre Plays to Storytelling Traditions and Samba
Written by Dr Birgitta Huse, 17.07.2019
Coinciding with hot summer weather, Latin American music, theatre, film and dance are taking over Dalston until 27th of July 2019. London´s Festival of Latin American Arts presents the works of progressive Latin American creators. The opening night of the 10th edition of CASA was celebrated with two plays and a cheerful opening party at the Arcola Theatre. The evening offered several of those things that let us feel alive and was a perfect taster for the things to come.
The two performances that were staged on the opening night were ”Ladylike,” a provocative dance piece taking a fierce, frank and funny look at gender roles and face our deepest fears and desires, and “Unfamiliar.” My choice was to see the latter. By birth we all have a family. Who hasn’t already thought about how her/his family is like? “Unfamiliar,” a debut theatre piece written and performed by Victor Esses and Yorgos Petrou, is a frank autobiographical performance exploring what a family is, where it comes from and dealing with the essential question “Can we make our own?”. Reading from notebooks, telling memories, listening to thoughts of other people about the theme are combined with sounds and objects of everyone’s daily life, and movements that examine the human body as a site of individuality or dichotomy. Studio 2 of the Arcola Theatre has a familiar character to it and we are very close to the performance, we get more and more drawn into the exploration of the two protagonists. At the same time we are reflecting on own thoughts and experiences with regards to creating a family – an inspiring starting point for an exchange of ideas after the show. This is exactly what Victor Esses work is about: to investigate for imagining and creating a better future.
Las Adelitas, the internationally acclaimed all-female Mariachi band, follow both of the opening stage performances at the Arcola bar. Las Adelitas were founded “out of the desire to shatter stereotypes in the field” in 2013. They are a strong contrast to the typical male Mexican Mariachi bands one can hire, for example at the famous Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City. The name “Las Adelitas” is based on the fearless women who fought in the Mexican revolution to rebel against many injustices of the time. The women in the band received a fabulous welcome during the festival opening party in Dalston. Not only did the audience listen to the band and dance to the music, it was rather an evening of sharing deep feelings of belonging as several songs like “México lindo y querido” and “El Rey” were sung together. For those who are not into it yet: One explanation told about the origins of the term “Mariachi” is that it goes back to the French word “mariage” which was used during French intervention in Mexico around the 1860s for this style of music. Nowadays we can hire Mariachi Bands for many occasions like weddings, birthdays and other parties for entertainment, but they are also part of funerals and religious processions. In 2011 the UNESCO recognised Mariachi as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
With the 10th edition of the CASA Festival of Latin American Arts Cordelia Grierson (artistic director) and the CASA team, including volunteers, present an exciting, inspiring programme, that they want to share with many people over the next two weeks in the three festival locations (Arcola Theatre, Rio Cinema and Dalston Eastern Curve Garden).
The Protagonist Magazine´s Festival favourites are:
· Music: London Lucumi Choir, singing songs from spiritual tradition of Santeria, Orisha worship expressed in Cuba and beyond, July 24 at 8 pm
· Theatre: “Tropicalia Island” by Fernanda Mandagara, Brazil – UK. The world is ending, only three safe places remain: The Himalaya, the North Pole and Tropicalia Island, a native emigration officer receives refugees. There are rules and it won´t be easy for the “exotic white” people to fit in. July 20 at 9pm and 27 at 8.30pm.
· Theatre: “The only thing a great actress needs is a great play and the desire to succeed” by Vaca 35, Mexico, multi-award winning. A small audience will be led backstage to witness two Mexican servants prepare for the day ahead. The piece shines light on marginalization. July 18,19,20, and daily from July 22 to 26 at 9pm
· Dance: “Ladylike” by Ella Mesma Company, Cuba-International, a superheroines journey that takes a fierce, frank and funny look at the potential and the limitations of gender roles fusing hip hop with Rumba. July 18 and 19 at 7.30pm and 20 at 7pm
· Film: Short Films – Yo soy. Traversing Mexico, Colombia, and Chile, this programme invites you into an authentic menagerie of storytelling traditions. “The Labyrinth” by Laura Huertas Millá, Colombia, is from 2019. July 26 at 8.30pm
· Party: Six further parties after the opening night, amongst others, with live music and for the first time in CASA’s history, one with cabaret!
· Workshop: Come and explore your talents! Live performance development week with Andrea Spisto, July 27 at 6pm
CASA Festival of Latin American Arts 2019, 16th – 27th July, Dalston, London E8