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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

FiraTàrrega 2013 presents the most up to date Mexican scene and reaffirms its status as a transcontinental hub

With Mexico as the guest country, FiraTàrrega 2013 will bring together the European premieres of the latest productions by the great flagship companies of current Mexican theatre, such as Teatro Línea de Sombra, Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes and Compañía Nacional de Teatro (the National Theatre Company). There will be a strong presence at the Fira of Mexican professionals, and during the Fira there will also be a conference for professionals, including a series of round table discussions, focused on the performing arts in this Central American country.

FiraTàrrega is the showcase, par excellence, for street arts, in the broadest sense. Both from the point of view of the variety of disciplines and in terms of the origin of the shows on offer, the Fira covers the whole panorama. A good example of this is the fact that each year the program includes performances by Catalan, Spanish and international companies, and that the productions from one chosen country are always highlighted. This year, the guest country is Mexico.

A selection of five outstanding and unmissable productions will come to Tàrrega, which for a few days will become, for yet another year, the capital of the performing arts. These include shows for the street, for the theatre stage, and site specific shows, which will be able to be seen for the first time in Europe and which are presented by companies that are, without a shadow of a doubt, the great ambassadors of Mexican theatre today: Teatro Linea de Sombra, Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes, Compañía Nacional de Teatro, La máquina de Esquilo and Vaca 35. All of these, each of them with its own peculiarities, blend in perfectly with the basic nature of the FiraTàrrega programme: novelty, richness of content, their international orientation, and their connection with real life.

But Mexico's participation in FiraTàrrega will be cross cutting and will take other forms, apart from the purely artistic aspect. Between 5 and 8 September there will be a strong presence in Tàrrega of Mexican professionals associated with cultural events, and for Thursday, 5 September a conference for professionals has been organised, with a series of round table discussions concerning the situation of the performing arts in this Central American country.

The showcase for Mexican productions

The flagship company of Mexican theatre, Compañía Nacional de Teatro, comes to Tàrrega with a show called Carnada, directed by Richard Viqueira, one of the most daring figures in today's Mexican creative scene, whose productions are always controversial, aiming to make the audience position itself. An interesting combination which brings to the stage an iconoclastic and rule breaking reinterpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear. A tragic story about the desire to survive, about flattery and deception and, ultimately, about the weakness of human nature when faced with the inescapable reality of extinction and death.

La máquina de Esquilo (The Aeschylus machine) bring us the event of the same name, an entertaining show performed by young Mexican actors. They carry us back to the time of Aeschylus with a comedy that takes us through the history of drama. Based on this fighter who faced the Persians in the fifth century BC, this is a street theatre show, ideal for young audiences. It is a comedy, with live music, which evokes deities and nymphs and brings up to date a series of classical characters, from Prometheus to the Oceanides.

Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes is one of the leading companies in the Latin American creative vanguard; they have appeared at festivals on the five continents Their latest show, Todavía... siempre, tells the story of two lovers who were separated in youth and meet again in their old age. With the staging by Claudio Valdés Kuri and a magnificent performance by Tara Parra - a genuine living legend of Mexican acting - the story deals with issues such as wisdom, patience, pain, death and, above all, the enjoyment and meaning of life. A moving story of experiences in which fragility becomes a pretext for reflexions of extreme intensity.

Baños Roma is a show offered by Teatro Linea de Sombra, a Mexican company created in 1993, with a high international profile, dedicated to contemporary creation through the convergence of visual languages, physical theatre of objects and a strong commitment to the real world that surrounds them. From the random and transversal story of the life of the former world boxing champion, José Ángel "Mantequilla" Nápoles, a show is built up that deals with the violence suffered by Ciudad Juárez and that, by extension, runs throughout Mexican society. A metaphor built on the basis of an accumulation of objects, newspaper headlines, anecdotes and images caught in the memory, and that outline the shadow of a man, a place and a moment in history.

The company Vaca 35 come to Tàrrega with Lo único que necesita una gran actriz es una gran obra y las ganas de triunfar ("The only thing a great actress needs is a great play and the desire to succeed"), a free and updated adaptation of Jean Genet's The Maids, expressed through two central themes: life as a mechanical experience and the theatre as a place of authenticity in a world that has transformed art into a commodity. Two actresses, two women who play two servants, bring to life one of 20th-century drama's key texts, with a structure that reveals the real and fictional limits of the actor, of the character, of the audience, of the space and of the play itself. A unique opportunity for the audience to live close up a complete stage experience.

Among the events related to this year's guest country, there is yet one more, which is included in the FiraTàrrega Workshops since it has to do with education in street arts. It is a proposal that is the product of the participation of the Catalan artist Ernesto Collado in the teaching program for actors at the CUT (UNAM), in Mexico. Entitled Verdades como puños, this production is the result of the Fira's collaboration with the University Theatre Centre at the Autonomous University of Mexico and has the support of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico. With Ernesto Collado's experience in the dramatic narration of the real world, inspired by social movements such as the indignados, this show seeks to explain the margins of Mexico's social fabric today.

* The places and times where these events can be seen are to be found on the FiraTàrrega 2013 programme: /media/upload/pdf/programa-fira-2013_ok_editora_14_50_1.pdf

Professional activities dedicated to the guest country

True to its desire to be a transversal event where the concerns of citizens and those of the companies and professionals within the sector come together, FiraTàrrega has once more prepared activities specifically aimed at the latter. And with Mexico as the special guest, there was a particular interest in devoting some of the activities to this country. Thus, the presence in Tàrrega of an important delegation of Mexican professionals will be highlighted in a conference focused on the performing arts in that Central American country, which will take place on 5 September and will include the following round table discussions:

· Performing arts as a instrument for social cohesion Mexican theatre today often acts as a critical mirror with great educational value, focusing on the violence which occupies such a prominent place in the complex and contradictory Mexican social situation. Many cultural projects are emerging as a responsible and committed response to problems or key social issues such as violence in the family, at school or at work; violence against women, or other gender or homophobic violence; and above all the violence produced by the illegal drug trade. Three experts will share success stories and examples of best practices with participants.

· Playwriting for young people One of the most successful programs carried out by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes of the Mexican government is that related to dramatic writing for young people. The Programa Nacional de Teatro Escolar (National Programme of Theatre for Schools) is a very important nursery for talented new creators. An example of good practice, a fully exportable case study, explained by its initiators.

· Snapshot of new Mexican direction A talk with some of the key names in the generation of Mexican artists who are becoming a regular part of international programming. An unusual way of understanding and presenting Mexico's theatre of today. Some of them are conventional examples, others less so, but all are of undoubted quality.

Registration for Professionals is open and can be done by following the instructions which appear on the FiraTàrrega website: /professionals/en_venir_com_a_professional/