The people at the Riverside Theatre are dead-set on revolutionizing the way we see theater, and their upcoming festival will prove it.
The Revolutions International Theatre Festival, now in its second year, is already received as an annual blessing for Albuquerque theater-goers.
Stocked like a liquor cabinet with sinfully intoxicating new art forms, the fest offers everything you can't find in mama's refrigerator - from experimental music and original plays to movement pieces and comedy routines.
Performances will be held in venues in and around the University, ensuring that no one in a two-mile radius from UNM will escape the revolution. Variety is the word here, and for the next three weeks, Albuquerque may resemble something of a modern Vaudeville ghetto.
Tuesday night's kick-off gala, which was at the Riverside Theatre, on the stage and every other place where cheese crumbs and wine stains could be hazardous, was the first fun-filled night of the festival.
Both local and out-of-town artists gathered to churn the exciting spirit of the next three weeks, and this is where I had a chance to speak with a few of the visiting performers.
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"I really have to say that New Mexicans are the nicest people I've ever met," said Desiree Prewitt, performer and co-author of "Live Girls Do Elektra" from Seattle, Wash. Next on her list of praise was the generosity of the Riverside directors, who have opened their homes to the visitors and shown a genuine concern for their well-being. "They brought us a whole bunch of groceries when we got here," Prewitt said. "We couldn't believe it."
It seems like everyone wants in on the fun. UNM is co-sponsoring the festival and sending out theater students as festival volunteers. Educational theater training workshops, led by visiting performers and the ensemble, are open to UNM theater students while space is available. UNM's involvement this year, as always, only serves to buttress the relationship the Riverside has enjoyed with the University since its inception in 1993.
"They really know how to work," said UNM theater student Sadie Hayes in reminiscence of a visit made to one of her high school play rehearsals by the Riverside Ensemble, the same people sponsoring this year's festival. "They really got (the cast members) working together a lot better than we had been. And then we actually started hanging out with each other and bonding."
The Riverside is in education mode year-round, but nothing will impact us more than benefiting from performers from around the United States who incorporate global theatrical styles. The festival officially begins tonight at 7 p.m. in Rodey Theatre. Peter Schumann, artistic director of Vermont's famous Bread and Puppet Theatre, will present "Fiddle Talk" at the price of a $10 suggested donation.
What you can expect to find on sale outside the performance venues are explicit, in-depth programs that will explain the revolution better than this article, Revolution 2002 T-shirts for ten dollars, and even a book, "Twentieth Century Actor Training," published by Routledge, for $18.
What you'll find inside the venues is revolutionary.