What: Encuentro 2014 – A National Latina/o Theatre Festival
When: 12 October to 10 November 2014
Where: Los Angeles Theatre Center – Downtown L.A.
In the mid-2000s, the International Latino Theatre Festival (FITLA) gave Los Angeles a glimpse into the superb stagework from Spanish-speaking countries all over the world. I have vivid memories of Antigona (Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani – Peru), Aiguardent (Marta Carrasco – Spain), The Man with the Wind in his Soles (Jorge Folgueira/Tony Duran), and others. I don’t speak Spanish and it didn’t matter – these were heart-in-mouth, did-that-just-happen evenings. FITLA was a gem, poorly covered even by LA standards, and petered out around 2006 for various reasons of funding and organizer fatigue. The Getty brought back Antigona a few years later and Teresa Ralli lost none of her virtuosity or soul in the revisit.
The Los Angeles Theatre Center and the Latina/o Theatre Commons have picked up the baton and will be presenting a month long festival of works in a similar vein. Encuentro 2014 brings together 150 artists from the U.S. and Puerto Rico in performances spanning family dynamics to border violence and immigration. There are also a number of parallel residencies, workshops, and discussions to go with the performances. At first glance it doesn’t appear to have the international reach of FITLAs past but it is great to see sustained attention being paid to this community. A community that could use a better collective term than the unwieldy Latina/o.
The Encuentro 2014 website could use a simple PDF schedule to go with the blinking graphics. To find a list of performances, go to the ticketing pages at
https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/28125/1412208000000 (October Events)
https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/28125/1414886400000 (November Events)
24th Street Theatre‘s shattering La Razon Blindada would have been a natural match for this festival but isn’t part of it. Many of the other shows do look promising. It isn’t clear whether Encuentro is a one-off or will recur. I hope it is the latter. LA needs to see more work from areas where theatre still matters.