In a city where African-American and Latino activists have gotten into some ugly tussles at school board and city council meetings, we can't think of a better idea than taking essentially apolitical art and using it for political ends--or, to be more specific, to help end the politics that divide two communities that have such a powerful incentive to organize for their common good.
We're not so naïve as to believe Teatro Dallas' 8th International Festival, hosted by the South Dallas Cultural Center for four weekends as part of its "Africa: Canto a Mi Sangre" series, will accomplish this--nor do we believe it has been designed solely for black, brown, and red audiences. But if Teatro Dallas artistic director Cora Cardona and the cultural center's director Vicki Meek succeed at their objectives, then the little-discussed ways Latino and African cultures worldwide have influenced each other will be demonstrated in musical, dramatic, and comic form.
Most of the performances are in Spanish, but Cardona has selected these artists for their emphasis on visual rather than textual presentation. She also provides an English-language libretto for the rest of us.
Teatro Dallas' 8th International Festival
South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh St.
Runs February 2-24 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 to $30; an all-festival pass is $75. Call (214) 741-1135.
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February 2-3: From Peru, Los Hermanos Santa Cruz presents a grab bag of Afro-Peruvian music, poetry, dance, and theater called El Bal Oscuro.
February 9-10: From Mexico and the United States, Tercera Raiz and Teatro Dallas stage Anton Arrufat's slapstick piece La Repeticion.
February 16-17: From Brazil, Avatar interprets The Tempest to explore colonialism.
February 23-24: From San Antonio, Jump Start Performance Company offers La Frontera, a musical comedy about a Mexican-American and an African-American family living side by side.