Sunday, January 14, 2018

Teatro Diabolico: 2017 in Oaxaca, Mexico with Michael deMeng: Dia Seis and Siete

Saturday, October 28th

Today was a full day in the workshop working on our projects.  My actors are starting to come together.

Lunch today was at Casa Conzatti Hotel.

Michael is well aware that this is Oaxaca during Dia de los Muertos and that means parades or comparsas.  Today's class interuptus was the children's parade.

I know that my friends Tim (cool hat) and Kim Abler (basket on her head) go to Oaxaca every year for Dia, but it is whole other thing to see them walk past you IN the parade

Remember I had seen a poster for a show that sounded pretty darn good? I talked a bunch of folks into heading over to the Teatro Juarez for Catrina.

The theater is a short walk from our hotel so in the afternoon I walked over there to buy the tickets in advance.  What I found was a man with a card table and a pad of tickets which offered festival seating as the option at either a $300 or $200 peso level.  ($15 or $10 dollars).  In some sort of broken language, hand-signalled way, I managed to find out that the doors opened at 7:00 p.m. and the show would be at 8:00 p.m.

The show had a cast of 100 local performers and one prima donna lead singer.  She was pretty good but the production was at the level of community theater.  We saw things like a dancer’s mask fall off, the orchestra was not always in tune and one poor ballet folklorico dancer fall flat on his face when he slipped on the cempasĂșchil (marigold) petals some one thought was a good idea to spread all over the stage.  Despite these shortcomings I liked the show for the sheer magic of participating in a local piece of theater in a foreign country.

This opinion was not shared by the rest of the attendees.

Sunday, October 29th

Every year when we come to Mexico we get one extra hour of life as they fall back earlier then in the United States.  Today I finally got another walkabout into my schedule.  For whatever reason I have been unable to get going in the morning but today was different.  I walked up the hill from our hotel through the streets and alleys looking for great street art.

My goal was the Templo de Santo Tomas Xochimilco which is one of my favorite spots in Oaxaca.  It is up a hill above our hotel and about a one mile walk. The first time I was in Oaxaca  was 2012 and I had a great personal experience in this spot.  Unfortunately, hard times have fallen on the little cemetery.  Some of the statuary that was upright is now knocked over--some of which could have been from the two recent earthquakes in the area.  Either way, this is still a special spot and is scheduled to be the location of the city celebration of Dia de los Muertos because the Panteon General is closed by earthquake damage.

Outside the Templo de Santo Tomas Xochimilco an artist was preparing the wall for some new street art.  

I took a different route back to our hotel to find more of the unique Oaxacan street art.

I was back to the hotel in time for the workshop start at 10:00 a.m.  The ofrenda (or Dia de lost Muertos altar) is taking shape in our classroom.

The whole group walks over to lunch at the Argentinian place El Fogoncito.

We worked on our projects during the afternoon before a number of us walked to the studio of artist Humberto Batista.

In 2014 we were able to go to an art opening featuring Humberto's paintings (one of which hangs on the wall behind my back as I sit here typing this now).  Humberto Batista is an assemblage artist as well as a painter.  His house is just what you would image a Mexican surrealist assemblage artist would live in.

After this visit, I walked over to the area of the city where there are tallers (workshops) of print makers.

Next I walked the alcala.  That means more parades, more costumes and more music.  Oddly, I my walk I came across this poster.

What makes this so odd is that I have a print of this very image hanging right in front of me as I type this.  How cool is that.

What the streets look like when a comparsa comes by

Tonight I had dinner with Tina Berrier at a quiet little spot off the acala.  Here is our dinner story.  Language is always fun when as Americans we don't speak the lingo.  Tonight was especially cute:  I ordered my food and Tina ordered a Margarita pizza.  The waiter brought my drink and a Margarita for Tina.   She did not want the drink but I decided to keep it.  She asked the waiter if she still was going to get her Margarita pizza and he said, "No."  That made us laugh and agree to split my food after it came.  Then...the Margarita pizza showed up--which we also shared.  It was great to spend some down time with just one class mate and I learned more about Tina in that time than all the class time we shared.  Thanks, Tina.  

Now it was time to wander down the alcala for the nightly activities.

Some of us worked in the studio until midnight.

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