Wednesday, May 16, 2012



In association with Theatre Passe Muraille and Aluna Theatre, Rutas Panamericanas/Panamerican Routes opened last night with a vibrant and engaging interdisciplinary dance/puppet  theatre piece from LOCO7, entitled Urban Odyssey. A m√©lange of puppets, both great and small, manipulated skillfully by a talented acting ensemble, filled the stage for eighty minutes and depicted, through haunting form, powerful video images, and frequent voice-overs, the layered and often  arduous experience of immigrating to America.

The sheer diversity and resourcefulness embodied by the array of cleverly built puppets - from larger than life marionettes looming over the actors, to a playful scene with brightly colored, tiny child like puppets - created an analogous connection to the ways in which individuals are often called upon to take on many roles in order survive as immigrants in a frequently unwelcoming environment. 

The layering of a single character played by Federico Restrepo, through the use of a variety of puppets who resembled his actual human presence, revealed the various personas and skills one is called upon to display as individuals facing the “allure, disillusionments and rites of passage of striving for the American Dream.” (program note) 

At one point Restrepo’s character asks whether everything he has achieved before immigrating disappears when he arrives in America. Does he have to begin again? A climactic scene with the re-entry of giant, business suited puppets sporting menacing Medusa-like heads and carrying ominous placards suggested that the struggle to re-invent one’s self in the face of rampant capitalism can lead to a dead end, or at the very least, an over mortgaged cul-de-sac. And yet, the resourcefulness of an incredibly versatile tent-like structure, the dancerly episodes of inventive play and haunting struggle, attest to the ongoing, life-affirming persistence of individuals in search of a new life within personalized visions of a single America as a peaceful and united entity.

featured photography by a group of former child soldiers and youth at risk who documented their lives in the Barrio Honda outside of Medellin, Colombia (as part of an international workshop held by Aluna in 2009), as well as featuring the work of Canadian travel photographer Lola Reid Allin 

a contrasting set of curated works

the exhibit will be on display in the lobby of Theatre Passe Muraille from 12pm to 5pm
and upstairs on the mezzanine for patrons of the festival

In her opening remarks, Beatriz Pizano, artistic director of Aluna Theatre, the Festival’s hosting company, passionately referred to  the dream of an America that included an entire continent, rather than the sharply divided economic spheres presently in place. Panamerican Routes and Urban Odyssey reveal this ongoing struggle in engaging, powerful, and visionary ways, giving a fine aesthetic focus for the ongoing development of Pizano’s concluding remarks in her program notes -

"The whole continent is our home: this festival is our way of going beyond             divisions and making connections. Interdisciplinary. From across the 
Americas. We are bringing great art and great minds together in debate and controversial issues, on stage and off."

Urban Odyssey runs until May 20th

details about other mainstage festival shows (at stages throughout the city) and workshops, running until May 27th can be found at

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