Since 2012, Dallas’ Ochre House Theater has collaborated with the Dallas Flamenco Festival ever year on a new, original production. Ochre House has resurrected many because of their popularity and acclaim. Their 2012 Perro y Sangre got a revamp in New York’s Teatro Latea, while 2015's Buñuel Descending played to sold-out houses and got a revival the following year.
Each year, Ochre House artistic director Matthew Posey picks an iconic figure, and with the help of world-class flamenco artists, weaves a story around the person that transcends what we typically think of theater.
In past years, Posey has deconstructed Ernest Hemingway, Dracula and Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. This time it’s Picasso.
Picasso: Matador de Malaga is a close look at the troubled painter Pablo Picasso, his many lovers, his travels throughout Spain and Europe, and the loneliness that Posey says infiltrated his work — all filtered through the layered medium of flamenco dance.
It’s a story of an artist, rich with all the complications that made him human. Posey says Ochre House is the perfect venue for a traditional flamenco performance.
“Flamenco really is meant for an intimate venue," he says. "It would take place on back porches of houses. This is a really focused venue for it.”
Posey was intrigued by the way Picasso changed the face of art with his abstract interpretations. Posey says the way Picasso explored the “unreal” was revolutionary. Posey also looked to Picasso’s lovers for inspiration for the production. The play essentially tells Picasso's story through his “muses."
“He was very difficult to live with, and so they all moved on eventually," Posey says. "But they were all inspirations for his art. He was a lonely man in a crowd, and it seems that he was always running away from something.”
The breadth of that story was the hook for Posey. The production is immediate and fierce, thanks to his collaborations with the Latino community. The easygoing, jovial director grew up in El Paso, and he says the generosity and openness of the Latino culture has made a big impression on him.
In 2012, when the Dallas Flamenco Festival first wanted to collaborate with Ochre House, Posey was thrilled. He calls the actors and dancers in Picasso Dallas' best.
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“Alfonso [Cid] sings in a quartet that goes all over the world," Posey says. "It’s such an honor to have them perform at Ochre House.”
As Posey continues to recover from a violent assault he suffered in January, he is sentimental about his work and the opportunity to keep living and enjoying the world around him. After the assault, Posey says, he made a conscious decision to not let his attacker rob him of his life. The joy that flamenco brings to his theater and his community of artists does not go unnoticed.
“It is fun and challenging to work on this project. This collaboration makes the art form open to all. It is so nice to see a house full of flamenco lovers,” he says.
Picasso: Matador de Malaga, Ochre House Theater, 825 Exposition Ave., 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, through Saturday, July 1, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee Saturday. Tickets are $25 at ochrehousetheater.com.