For two weeks, the RUTAS panamericanas International Performing Arts Festival takes over Daniels Spectrum, from October 5–16, featuring over a dozen Canadian, Indigenous, and Latin American groups, with performances, master classes, cabarets, concerts, film and a multi-day conference on the intersections of performance and human rights.
From a reinvention of European classics like Antigone, Hamlet, Othello, and Life is a Dream, to innovative ritualistic and physical theatre – artists from Colombia, Bolivia, New York, New Zealand, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Switzerland and Canada challenge how we frame our understanding of each other and our histories.
This year marks the third edition of Aluna Theatre’s RUTAS Festival, founded by Aluna Theatre’s Artistic Director Beatriz Pizano. The festival presents the work of artists from the Diaspora living in Canada, exposes Canadian audiences to some of the most innovative theatre companies on the continent, and creates cultural bridges between the South and the North.
Highlights from this year’s programming include:
Hamlet de los Andes / The Hamlet of the Andes
Teatro de los Andes, Bolivia – Directed by Diego Aramburo
Opening night post-show talk with Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antonio Cimolino
A Bolivan Hamlet tries to reconcile the modern world with his ancient traditions. In this adaptation by one of the most important Ensembles in Bolivia, three actors and a musician play 15 characters in a physical and politically-charged production that exposes the plight of the thousands of Bolivians who leave their rural homes for the city in hope of a better life. Deeply affecting, Hamlet de los Andes combines Bolivian music and visually-stunning theatre with Shakespeare’s themes of personal betrayal and state corruption to create a darkly comic and original new work.
Te Rēhia Theatre Company, New Zealand
Performed by Tainui Tukiwaho, Directed by Craig Geenty
A bold and humorous Maori twist on the classic tragedy in which Te Reo, original prose, and contemporary English come together. Using traditional Maori masks (Te Mata Kokako o Rehia), this solo interpretation of Othello puts the spotlight on the characters Iago, Rodrigo, Othello and Desdemona, and places them into the context of a war between tribes in pre-colonial New Zealand.
Commissioned, developed and produced by Nightswimming, Canada/Chile
Written and Performed by Carmen Aguirre
Carmen Aguirre leads a public Latin American dance lesson, woven together with hilarious and moving stories of her own experiences in the hidden world of dancehalls in Canada. DJ Don Pedro Chamale creates an irresistible musical environment to get even the most reluctant dancer up on their feet! Daring, sexy and above all – fun, each dance lesson flows into Carmen’s stories of intimacy, politics, culture and the forgotten origins of each dance. Gather together to listen, move and be moved. No dance experience necessary.
The Pass System
Produced in association with Tamarack Productions & distributed in Canada by Vtape.
Directed by Alex Williams, Narration by Tantoo Cardinal.
This is a 2015 Canadian documentary film about the pass system, a former Canadian government policy in which First Nations people were kept segregated on their reserves. For over 60 years, the Canadian government illegally denied many Indigenous peoples of the prairies the basic freedom to leave government-assigned reserves, and forcing them to carry a pass when they did so. Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Ojibwe and Blackfoot Elders of the land where this took place tell their stories of living under and resisting the system, and link their experiences to today.
RUTAS panamericanas 2016 also marks the third year Aluna Theatre is partnering with Native Earth Performing Arts to bring dynamic arts programming to Regent Park.
Be sure to make time to check out a few of the performances and films at this year’s festival. RUTAS panamericanas also includes musical events, such as their Cabaret + Music nights. The festival has plenty to offer on stage and off. For full listings, tickets, and theatre location, visit rutas.ca.