Lunching Latino

You work downtown. You're tired of the standard lunchtime fare. Eating at your desk just doesn't do it for you either. So you take a stroll, head down Commerce Street, looking for something new to break the boredom. What you stumble across is a small, unassuming building--the home of Teatro Dallas--which appears surprisingly active for this time of day. A door opens, and the sound of Cuban music pours rhythmically into the street. This is your chance. You enter, pay 12 bucks, grab some grub, watch the show, and save a theater in the process.

"Lunch with the Arts" is Teatro Dallas' monthlong attempt to bridge the shortfall caused in its budget by cuts in government and corporate funding. Additional revenue generated from this program will be used to plan next year's season. The theater, one of the few in the city dedicated to performing works by Latino authors or with Latino themes, is also in desperate need of a new home. Its Commerce Street space has been sold and is destined to become a gas station. Although "Lunch with the Arts" has already raised over $3,000 of its projected $4,000, Teatro Dallas can always use more.

The program offers a simple but hearty menu of deli sandwiches, tortas (a kind of Mexican sub with everything on it--beans, cheese, avocado, jalapenos), sodas, aguas frescas (fruit drinks), and pastries every day from noon till 1 p.m. With the food comes an innovative assortment of plays, films, music, and dance designed to feed the bodies and soothe the souls of downtown office folk.

If last Friday's fare is any indication, "Lunch with the Arts" should continue to be a financial hit. The Cuban quartet, 3 for 2, here on a special cultural exchange visa, covered much of the history of Cuban music this century, playing mambos, rumbas, guarachas, and boleros--to name only some of the dance forms that have sprung from the island's fertile musical soil. By the end of the hourlong show, many within the initially tame lunch crowd of button-down corporate types had left their sandwiches behind and taken to the stage, dancing in step to the Caribbean sounds.

Next week's productions include the film Frida Kahlo: A Ribbon Around a Bomb on Wednesday; ballroom dancing with Mauricio Carrera on Thursday; and to end the program on Friday, Madness, a piece performed by actor Michael Garcia and dancer Jennifer Olsen. These artists are donating their time and talent to help the theater, and La Madeleine French Cafe and Bakery is donating the pastries--so even if the artists are starving, the patrons will go away full.

--Juliana Barbassa

"Lunch with the Arts" ends on Friday, August 28. Call (214) 741-1135 to place your lunch order and to confirm the schedule for the day. Bring your own food and tickets are only $6. For $12, you can see the show, and the theater provides lunch. Teatro Dallas is located at 2204 Commerce Street.


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