Festival brings political theater with a Latino focus to Minneapolis


Intermedia Arts, an art gallery and performance venue in Uptown Minneapolis, is the only place in Minneapolis where you can see nearly ten plays dealing with Latin American issues this winter. From February 14 through March 2, Teatro Del Pueblo and the University of Minnesota will bring the seventh annual Political Theatre Festival to the Twin Cities.

For more information on the Political Theatre Festival, see teatrodelpueblo.org.

“The idea for the Political Theatre Festival came about when our artistic director Alberto Justiniano was in Ireland, teaching conflict resolution,” said Sheila Regan, Educational Coordinator for the company Teatro Del Pueblo. “He was actually in a pub and realized that he wanted to be more well-versed in Latin American politics.“

The first Political Theatre Festival took place in 2002, though it was originally slated for 2001. (According to Regan, organizers postponed it because of the events of 9/11.) This year’s festival promises to be politically charged and topical with a focus on issues of identity in the Latino community in the United States. Most of the plays are in English with some Spanish, but two of the plays are performed entirely in Spanish. For Mi ChiChi by Tere Martinez is a one woman show, in Spanish, about a Dominican girl and her teacher. The third weekend of the festival features a group from Colombia called Rapsoda, performing an experimental movement piece that will be in Spanish as well.

Teatro Del Pueblo is a theater company based in St. Paul. The company was founded in 1992 with the intention of addressing issues that affect the Latino community in the Twin Cities and beyond. According to their mission statement, “Teatro del Pueblo believes that theater is an invaluable educational tool in promoting social understanding among communities. Even though they are occasionally at odds, politics and the art world have the potential to create a venue where knowledge promotes intellectual growth and intellectual growth promotes social change.”

The plays in this year’s Political Theatre Festival comprise a great range of topics and styles. For example, Hurricane in a Glass by Kimberly del Busto, directed by Shannon C. Harman, presents the story of “three generations of Cuban-American women struggl(ing) to preserve a lost culture after the family’s matriarch designs a mental escape to Cuba through Alzheimer’s disease,” according to festival organizers. On a satirical note, the play American Latino! by Dominic Orlando, directed by Christina Akers, chronicles “the triumphant return of popular reality show American Immigrant from 2007! This year’s show highlights perceptions on Latino identity through an interactive singing competition.” All the plays in this year’s festival are sure to be thought-provoking.

Jonah Winn-Lenetsky (winn0044@umn.edu) is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota. He teaches and writes about theatre and activism, especially when they come together.