tlf news Vol. xii #3 September, 1991

A Bit of News

This newsletter is something completely different: a NEWSletter, that is to say, a newsy update on what we've been up to since the last tlf news back in June.

The second fortnight of June was taken up by a two-week tour in the States (Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas) that was sponsored by the Instituto Paz en las Americas in Silver City, New Mexico. (To answer your question before you have time to ask it, Silver City is in southwest New Mexico. Its main claim to fame is that it is the town where Billy the Kid grew up; it's on the edge of the Gila National Forest and near a beautiful canyon called "The Catwalk" which was Butch Cassidy's hide-out). We did shows in Denver, Albuquerque, and El Paso, as well as three in Silver City during the week-long Instituto. It was a killer schedule of travel, but some really good performances happened and we met a lot of wonderful people in an area where we had few previous contacts.

The Instituto calls itself the "Meeting place of the peoples of the Americas", and is an interesting attempt to do just that. Aside from ourselves as representatives of Honduras, there was a music group from El Salvador and representatives from Guatemala, Mexico, various Chicano and native American groups in the States, Canada (and as an added feature, a Scot) as well as various Anglos. It was particularly worth-while, I think, for our actors. We didn't travel with all -- the Instituto could only pay for five (Edy, Guillermo, Rigo, Chito, and Oscar). My brother Mike helped us out managing, playing the guitar, driving, making innumberable phone calls to set things up and cetera.

To pick out a moment to remember from the trip: we were driving from Albuquerque to Denver in a rented van which had a tape player. Our hostess in Albuquerque, Anne Marie Gomez, had most kindly lent us some tapes, which included the Simon & Garfunkle "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." album. We use the 'Benedictus' from that album in our version of the Passion, so the actors know the voice parts; but they had never heard the recording. Picture this: we are driving along Interstate 25, the group is singing along (in Latin, of course) with the Renaissance voice parts. Oscar suddenly shouts "Miren." -- "Look." Only the recorded voices continue as our tropical troupe gasps at their first sight of snow-clad mountains.

We had to plunge back into work as soon as we arrived home, preparing this year's temporada or "season" in our theatre here in Progreso. The temporada , of which this was the fourth year, is our attempt to develop a paying audience in Progreso and at the same time to provide a showcase for other Honduran and Central American groups. Modelling our schedule on the Muny Opera in St. Louis (or any summer stock group), we had a different show going every weekend from the middle of July until the end of August: a theatre group from the National University in Tegucigalpa; an excellent Honduran singer/songwriter, Guillermo Anderson, and his group from La Ceiba COLECTIVARTES. Dance was a major feature: we had a dance group from San Pedro Sula under the direction of Flor Albergue, who is the head of our dance school; and this year we went international with a week-end of a modern dance group, Grupo Barranco, from the UCA in San Salvador.

teatro la fragua mounted two shows to open and close the season: Historias para ser contadas by the Argentinian playwright Oswaldo Dragún to open (the first time we've mounted this classic work complete); and a revival of our own Mision a la Isla Vacabeza to close. (If you've seen our film !TEATRO! you've seen cuts from the latter. It's our "get back in touch with our Mayan roots" feature that uses characters from the Popol-Vuh, the Mayan sacred book, put into the structure of a children's play by Robert Bolt).

The season is also our attempt to have a period of the year when we can actually break even in our operations. That might happen some year (I doubt it, but it might) with the help of donations from local merchants and professional people to supplement box-office income. We were quite happy with the results of this year's temporada : local donations covered the direct costs of bringing in other groups and we played continually to full houses. We DIDN'T come anywhere near covering all the expenses.

And economic disaster hit us in the form of three major repair jobs 1991.

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