tlf news Vol. xv #3 September, 1994

Honduran Stories in a Theatrical Version

The 20th of August, the day teatro la fragua opened their XV theatre season, we had the chance to get to El Progreso. After a fraternal encounter with Jack Warner and his dynamic group, the show began. Buried Alive and The Magic Boots of Teofilo Trejo; The Origen of Corn, a myth from Jicaque folklore; and a story of Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit formed the core of the theatrical evening.

And once again, the satisfaction provided by what we encountered more than compensated the effort of the trip: a working collective which continues to grow in its professionalism and in its sense of what a theatrical spectacle should be, seeking to reach a popular audience with great scenic and interpretative quality.

With all their charm and mischievousness, the stories take on new life on the warm boards of teatro la fragua. The hyperbolic lie of the tall tales of Teofilito are transformed into a believable reality and -- within their apparent insignificance --give us a glimpse into a daring and ingenious psychology, skilled in the difficult art of dodging the obstacles of an adverse world.

In The Origen of Corn, with roots in the indigenous tradition, the story leaves us with the insight that only human effort -- and not reliance on magical practices -- will construct the road to progress. "Only by means of work will your people eat, and not with magical strings that will yield you nothing", says Nompuinapu'u, the god of corn, as he teaches the Ancient of the Jicaque tribe the secret of the cultivation of the grain.

And of the old stories of Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit, one which, for me, has an intimate nostalgic value: the sarcastic retort ("Adiós Br'er Fox, teeth broken...") possesed the magic of conjuring the distant voice of my father when he revealed to an entranced heap of six or seven little ones the treasures of the imagination. But going beyond the personal, there is also the critical stance, of subtle but implacable judgement, towards religious attitudes on the fringes of the Biblical message.

Each work is a little gem in which, without falling into the extremes of regionalism, we can detect a healthy dose of the linguistic richness of the Honduran campesino, with which he shows, by means of an expressive turn of phrase, the indispensable common sense with which he grasps the world.

The perfect choices and the degree of integration of elements of dance, music, and sound and musical effects with the verbal, physical, and mimic language were another source of satisfaction. There is no trace of filler; rather, an integral mechanism in which all the elements work together to convey the meaning.

We saw in the greater part of the actors (especially in Pedro Cardoza, Chito Inestroza, José Ortiz, Rigoberto Fernández and Oscar Cardoza) a gestic and physical movement completely convincing and natural.

In synthesis, teatro la fragua -- before a packed house -- presented a spectacle bursting with freshness and with original solutions seeking the consolidation of a style of expression that bears an unmistakable Honduran stamp.

teatro la fragua is a group of which we have to feel proud: in their sallies into the outside world, they will never allow the name of the nation to fall into disrepute. All this thanks to the effort of the imponderable Jack Warner, founder and director. Along with those already mentioned, collaborating with him as actors at present are: Ivis and Jesús Cerrato, Dagoberto Bonilla, Edilberto González and Edgar Rosales. Rounding out the team: Carlos Caballero, Rosa Maradiaga de Cardoza, George Drance, Edilberto Ramírez, Osmel Poveda, Sandra Cruz, Salvador Velásquez and Ernesto Díaz. To all, congratulations on the 15 years you are celebrating as a theatrical anniversary should be celebrated: making theatre.

--Helen Umaña,
LA PRENSA, San Pedro Sula,
4 Septiembre 1994.

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