More than three dozen poems related to living along the U.S.-Mexico border and in a bicultural world are presented during Teatro Paraguas’ production “Atravesda: Poetry of the Border,” which runs from January 18-28 at the arts organization’s Calle Marie studio.
“Poems are memorized and acted out, some with props and dialogue,” explains the show’s director Alix Hudson, who is a bilingual early childhood teacher. “Music is underneath some of the poems, while silence is under others. Two of the poems are completely in Spanish.”
Works by poets such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Cordelia Candelaria, Gary Soto, Valerie Martínez, Pat Mora and Alicia Gaspar de Alba are performed by actors including Hudson, Argos MacCallum, Julia Gay, Jojo Sena de Tarnoff and Jonathan Harrell.
“We start with border poems and negative and positive connotations of the desert,” Hudson says. “Poems are about physical, linguistic and political borders. There are also poems about the emotional aspects of being bicultural and feeling love for both countries and a sense of belonging to both. Biculturality touches the lives of many members of Teatro Paraguas.”
Among the poems presented are “Learning English,” in which a coffee klatch of women struggle to express themselves in a foreign tongue, and “Spanish” and “Legal Alien,” which portray growing up bilingual and bicultural.
Some of the poems are presented in several different voices, with four or five involving all of the show’s 11 actors.
“Atravesada: Poetry of the Border” is part of Teatro Paraguas’ annual Poesía Viva (living poetry) series. The translation of Atravesada is “to have crossed, to have gone through, to have pierced, to have meddled with.”
“I started reading quite a bit of poetry this past summer and came up with idea of poetry of the border as the theme for this year’s production,” Hudson adds. “There were so many great poems available. I decided to include the works of more than a dozen poets in this show.”