Teatro Dallas and Cara Mia Theatre Draw Upon Their Shared Past for First Co-Production
By Cristee Cook
DALLAS, TX -- For the first time in their collective history, Dallas’ leading Latinx theatre companies, Teatro Dallas and Cara Mia Theatre, are collaborating. Opening April 17, the two companies are presenting an outdoor, interactive procession: ¡Soltar!.
I spoke with Executive Artistic Directors Sara Cardona (Teatro Dallas) and David Lozano (Cara Mia Theatre) about why this collaboration is important now, the inspiration behind the project, and what audiences can look forward to at ¡Soltar!.
Founded 35 years ago by Jeff Hurst and Cora Cardona, Teatro Dallas has been a springboard for many artists and performers in D/FW. When the company started, there wasn’t much representation on live stages of or for BIPOC performers. By founding Teatro Dallas, the Cardonas created that opportunity, along with uncommon training, including mask work and cultural performance methods and storytelling.
Cara Mia Theatre was founded 25 years ago and is now established as an additional Latinx presence in Dallas. While this is their first official collaboration, the companies have a long history of building off of each other in beneficial cooperation. As a young performer, Lozano got his start with Teatro Dallas. He even credits his training there as the foundation required to run Cara Mia Theatre. The connection shared between the companies are as deep as family roots.
Additionally, as Cardona shared: “We’ve shared many actors and we have parallel experiences. And we're two organizations that are in a city run facility, which has to our knowledge not been done anywhere else in the United States. So this seemed like the perfect time to really celebrate that historical parallel trajectory.”
The title ¡Soltar! means to release or let go, and the event draws inspiration from different cultures and eras: pre-Christian traditions, Roman Saturnalia festivals, Greek festivals, and Mexican traditions. The outdoor procession promises a solar scale with puppets, masks, costumes, and live music and dancing. New Orleans based Choreographer Michelle Gibson will be facilitating a lively and unexpected element as well.
Lozano explained that “…the name is a play on sol: the sun, and this time of the year, when we look forward to longer days with more sunlight and moving from the Spring Equinox into summer. So, it’s really aligned with the coming out of pandemic isolation as well. People are learning how to co-exist and to live together again, outside of the house and in their community. And so this is a celebration of that.”
During the pandemic, Cara Mia has continued to create live performances. Mostly experienced based, the offerings have created a space for audiences to enjoy safe live events with content that creates a space for us to process the psychological and emotional components of pandemic life. ¡Soltar! aims to offer fun and entertainment, but also a kind of ritual and invitation -- to let go of global lockdown and celebrate our slow embrace of a new normal.
Taking what was learned from Cara Mia’s recent efforts, Cardona explained why a ritual aspect is included. She said, “One of the things that was really important when we started thinking about all of this was, and it's, I would say, a very core theme to both of our theater companies, is that whatever we do – it needs to have a relevancy and an actual functionality. So while we're entertaining, it was very important for David and I to figure out how to not just have a pageant or a festival, but to actually give the audience an opportunity to participate ritually.”
She continued, “…we realized that the power of doing something outside with our audiences was to naturally invite them into this process of embodiment where their body goes through something, not just the actors. Think of a wedding. Why walk down an aisle? It's because you always have to have a passage. And that actual passage is very important for that feeling of transformation. So we are starting in one space to help our audience transform. Then we will have the passage, which is the actual procession to the third space, where they will experience another set of events that will hopefully help them release.”
Lozano added that audiences can look forward to seeing the traditional use of Mexican masks, and the actors’ abilities in dance and physical expression. This theatrical performance goes beyond text and dialogue and will showcase performance modalities that are fresh to Dallas audiences.
Cara Mía Theatre and Teatro Dallas present ¡Soltar! on April 17th & 24th.
Procession begins at 2 p.m. at Exall Park and ends at the Latino Cultural Center.
For tickets, call the Box Office at 214-516-0706 or visit www.caramiatheatre.org/soltar.