Teatro Avante Stronger Than Ever at 25

Arts / Article

“Dios aprieta, pero no ahoga” (God may squeeze, but he won’t drown us), observed Mario Ernesto Sanchez when asked what winning the Knight Arts Challenge has meant to his theater company, Teatro Avante, and the International Hispanic Theatre Festival his group hosts each year. “The award came at just the right time,” he explained. “We were losing all hope.”

According to Sanchez, the two years of funding — awarded in 2009 — will not only ensure that the festival survives, but that this year’s 25th anniversary will be bigger than any previous year. Each year, the festival hosts plays from across the Spanish-speaking world as well as an educational program that includes talk backs with the audience after each show and an international conference of leading theater scholars. This year the conference will run two days (July 10-11), rather than one. In addition, there will be video and book presentations and visual arts exhibits related to the performances.

The Knight Arts award has also made it possible for Beatriz J. Rizk, director of Teatro Avante’s educational program, to edit a compilation of the most engaging scholarly work presented at the conference over the past 25 year. Ready just in time for this summer’s conference, Sanchez says, “the compilation will give access to people who were not able to attend all the conferences to this body of work by international theater scholars. It will serve as a reference book.”

But don’t let all that book learning fool you. Year after year, the International Hispanic Theatre Festival delivers the most inspiring and invigorating work the Spanish language has to offer. “I can hardly believe that we’ve made it 25 years,” Sanchez beams. “But we did.”