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Miami / XXI Festival Internacional de Teatro Hispano

While in Miami the group had the pleasure of being able to explore the different types of theatre spaces that are the most popular and well known. The first play, Una tempestad, was performed in a more traditional proscenium theatre. The second play, Kuña Rekove, took place in a black box, or studio, theatre. The last play Puck "El Duende" was performed in a makeshift outdoor theatre under a tent.

The Miracle Theatre Main Stage

The first theatre space was in a very beautiful and well kept building. It had a Broadway style bar that served drinks while people waited for the show to start or during intermission. Its walls were also covered in very interesting art pieces. They were of people in different party situations or waiting areas, drinking and standing around. It had couches and benches along the walls. A person could tell from just waiting that it was a very classy and respectable building. The theatre stage and seating was a wide proscenium theatre with about 300 seats. The front seats where we sat were terribly close to the stage, and uncomfortable due to the neck pains from having to look up at the stage, not to mention the supertitle screen. The supertitles were translations into English; it was a good thing that everyone there spoke Spanish and did not need to look up very often.

The Miracle Theatre / Balcony Theatre

The second theatre space was the black box, with a wide, shallow stage and wide sewarting in three sections. Choosing to do this sort of play in a black box is a very intelligent choice. The intimacy it affords and the ability it has to make the audience a part of the play was very important for a play that wanted to move the audience and make the audience feel like they were looking at the lives of real women. The problem with this black box theatre was that the seating was not on risers; therefore, the audience not in the front row had people in front of them blocking their view. An even bigger problem was the placement of weight-bearing pillars that blocked the audiences view in the back sides. It would have been better had the acting company changed the placing of the seating so that it would have avoided the problem. The beauty of a black box space is its flexibility, and they could have placed the set and/or seating differently.

Miami-Dade College InterAmerican Campus Courtyard/Plaza

The last space was an outdoor setting, a tented audience and performance area in a paved courtyard at an urban community college campus. It was a space that fit the play because it was performed for little kids and they like to run around and move as much as they can. The problem with this is the seating again was not on risers, so it was hard to get a clear view all the time. Another problem was acoustics in such an open space. They used prerecorded material when it came to singing, and that did help a lot, but their dialogue was spoken live and without microphones. A lot of the lines were lost, also because some of the actor’s voices were distorted by costumes that covered their faces.

 

Guanajuato / XXXIV Festival Internacional Cervantino

Teatro Juarez

Teatro Juarez was an extremely beautiful building located in the center of Guanajuato not far from Plaza de la Paz.  The outside had a very classical look with columns and stately stairs leading up to the entrance, and featured several pieces of public sculpture.  In front of the building were a statue of a troubadour and a statue of a naked man in a Commedia mask on a spinning gyroscope while on the roof were statues of the muses.  Once inside the building, the lobby was a large, open area with more columns and a fancy bar off to the side.  The actual theatre space itself was a classic opera house design.  There were glorious Arabesque designs decorating the proscenium arch and even the speakers were painted to match.  While there were a few seats in the ground level orchestra, most of the seats were box seats on one of the five balcony levels with large numbers of lighting instruments blocking the view of anyone house right or house left. The balcony boxes contained portable rther than fixed seats, and had too many at that. The chairs were not very comfortable, being either wooden with some leg room or padded with even less leg room.

The acting area was enormous.  In addition to the already huge stage, there were platforms extending out over the orchestra pit and running the length of the apron.  It also had built-in trap doors with paths underneath to other areas of the stage.  As the entire backstage space was revealed at one point during Hamlet, there was evidently a lot of room for storing props and scenery when they might not be in use.  Additionally, the theatre had a shop area in the back for the creation and storage of scenery, which was also incorporated into the scene design.

Teatro Principal

The Teatro Principal was a rather plain, almost judicial-looking building from the outside.  The inside was similarly plain with a very small, narrow lobby area.  It did have the benefit of raked seating so the audience would not have to worry as much about being able to see over the heads of those in front of them.  However, the seating also did extend somewhat farther house right and house left of the stage, which would make sitting in either of those areas perhaps less desirable, as it would guarantee a view straight into the wings for shows not using a box set.  However, they would still be able to see the action onstage, even if from a skewed vantage point.

The stage was of average size; probably a bit wider and definitely deeper than the Stover stage as could be inferred from how far upstage the fly lines went.  The apron was curved.  No audience member was too far from the stage, though the front rows were very close.  The first row was a mere four feet from the apron.  Reading any supertitles was impossible (or at least very uncomfortable) until one got to the middle of the house; fortunately for us, the show we saw was in English.

Over the stage there were ample spaces to situate lights.  In the house, lighting instruments could be hung from a grid located above the audience or from booms along the sides of the theatre.  There was also a cove in the back of the house under the stage management booth where lights were mounted.

Teatro Cervantes

Teatro Cervantes was a modern building built with a mock-colonial facade.  The front used large amounts of natural rock in irregular patterns and looked rather like a period church with a large courtyard in front of it, which featured a huge statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.  The back of the building was pink stucco.  The lobby was quite large with a statue of Cervantes inside.

The house was medium in size with seats that were somewhat snug.  Happily, this theatre also had raked seating and so seeing the shows without obstruction was not difficult.  Furthermore, the range of seating was limited to what was directly in front of the stage.  There was no orchestra pit and the stage was somewhat smaller than in the Teatro Principal.  The décor in both the house and the lobby were very plain.

Lighting instruments were concealed in this theatre, and not visible to the audience.  A catwalk provided areas to hang lights in the house where they would not be seen and two side booms on the walls were masked by a wall segment in order that they would be less noticeable.

Plaza San Roque

The Plaza San Roque was a large, open, cobbled space in the streets of Guananjuato.  It was in front of an imposing Spanish colonial church out of the way of vehicular traffic, though walkers cut through it quite frequently.  In fact, during the daytime productions there was a lot of foot traffic that would traverse behind the performers to create a distracting backdrop for the shows.  There were five main ways to reach the plaza; two upstage left, one upstage right, and one each downstage left and right.  On the stage left side the performance area was surrounded by houses, one of which had a balcony which was used to advantage during the performances.  Unfortunately, sometimes the inhabitants of the houses would turn on the lights regardless of what was happening with the show outside and this created distractions.  The church provided a beautiful backdrop, however, and its stairs and bells were used to great advantage during shows.

The audience was seated on uncomfortable metal bleachers facing opposite the church.  There was no leg room whatsoever so you might very well find yourself using the legs of a stranger as armrests if you were lucky.  The other alternative was getting kneed in the back for the entire show.  The bleachers were also very cold, as the temperature in Guanajuato at night would drop and it would get very windy.

The lighting was rather limited for night shows.  During the day there was no problem as the sun was all that was needed.  In the evenings, however, there was only one area from which they could hang and circuit lighting instruments; thus three-dimensional lighting was impossible.  Basically all they could do was illuminate the entire area as best they could with a wash.

Each of these venues represented very different experiences and it was an excellent way to get a feel for theatrical spaces.

 

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