Teatro Sin Fronteras Latin Late Night Live at Café Istanbul, monthly, third Tuesdays thru December
Tired of the late night shows of Jimmy and James and Seth and Stephen? Then head over to Café Istanbul on the third Tuesday of each month for Teatro Sin Fronteras Latin Late Night Live.
Poet/performance artist José Torres-Tama hosts and produces, along with ArteFuturo Productions, Teatro Sin Fronteras LLNL which offers an appealing mixture of local Latinx musicians, singers and dancers as well as activists from the fields of NOLA’s cultural and social services whom Torres-Tama interviews. It’s an opportunity to see engaging performers and also learn about important work being done in our community.
On a recent rainy night, this month’s show began, as it always does, with Roberto Carillo playing the charrango, an instrument originally from Bolivia, which from the front looks a bit like a ukulele. It’s actually a small ten-stringed guitar with an armadillo shell backing whose design is based on the mandolin. Carillo dazzled with flamenco-style music including a rhythm from Paraguay during which his hand was a blur as he rapidly strummed the charrango’s strings.
Carillo was then joined by his wife, Maria Rodriguez. Together, they form Teatro Sin Fronteras LLNL’s house band RAÍCES, which means “roots” in English. With Carillo playing a pipes of Pan (or mouth flute), Rodriguez sang, while keeping the beat on a drum, with a strong alto voice that compelled you to listen even if you didn’t understand all the lyrics. I could listen to their Latin American folkloric music all day…and night.
Torres-Tama then bounded onto the stage wearing a red silk jacket and a red cowboy hat, a revolutionary color well-matching Torres-Tama’s devilish personality. Accompanying himself on maracas, he launched into one of his signature protest/commentaries in which he decried how “the United States of North America has a hard time living up to its press releases.” So true as the ongoing debacle in Afghanistan unfolds.
After a brief musical interlude from RAÍCES, Torres-Tama went on to present and then speak with the evening’s guests–
—Gauchos del Tango, another husband & wife duo comprised of singer Yulene Velásquez from Venezuela, and New Yorker Michael Ward-Bargeman who plays the accordion (standing in for the more traditional bandoneon). I’ve loved tango music since first being exposed to it 35 years ago via Broadway’s Tango Argentino, and with Velásquez’ great voice and Ward-Bargeman’s phenomenal musicianship, I’d never tire of hearing them play.
–Martha Alguera, Director of Voces Unidas: Louisiana Immigrants’ Rights Coalition which provides assistance to asylum seekers in Louisiana after they’ve been released from detention by bringing them to host homes and helping them obtain food. It was fascinating to hear about this vital organization.
–Dancer/choreographer Maritza Mercado-Narcisse who, on Café Istanbul’s small stage, employed sinuous movements in a new work that asks “What is American music in its various forms?” Afterward, when speaking with Torres-Tama, Mercado-Narcisse stated that the piece “incorporates all the influences that come with being Afro-Latina.”
–Tania Vidal, Director of LATINE Life and visual arts curator of The State of the United & the Migration of Art, an exhibition of Latin visual artists that opens on Sept. 15 and runs until Oct. 15 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Gallery (1205 N. Rampart St.). I was pleased to find out about this and look forward to attending its opening.
–As lagniappe, vocalist Natalie Jones, who also functions as Teatro Sin Fronteras LLNL’s stage manager, joined RAÍCES to perform a lovely Violeta Parra cancion (song) called Volver a los 17 (Return to your 17 Years of Age). Parra was an iconic Chilean poet and singer, Latin America’s Joan Baez.
Throughout, Torres-Tama interspersed the evening with his poetic editorials, observing that “The Pilgrims arrived without papers–the Europeans were the first illegal immigrants.” While his heart is in the right place, with his attacks on 45’s racist blatherings, one gets the sense that he’s preaching to the choir; I’d be curious to hear his thoughts on the many Latinos/as who voted for Trump. Regardless of his subject matter, Torres-Tama might be even more effective if he varied his tone somewhat as most everything emerges at a fevered pitch.
He did wholly captivate one audience member, however, a young girl who let out peals of high-pitched laughter which brought a big smile to Torres-Tama’s face and leavened his seriousness.
In addition to the entertainment, there’s vegan Mexican food from Veggie Tamales available to purchase as well as homemade flan from local singer Margie Perez plus the Chilanga Market has a spread of handmade Mexican crafts for sale.
While the rain may have been, in part, to blame, Teatro Sin Fronteras Latin Late Night Live deserves a larger audience than it had in August. When I mentioned this to Torres-Tama, he replied that “We’re still getting the word out.”
So plan to go on Tuesday, September 21, when the guests will include singer/musician Fermin Ceballos, Daniel Castellanos of Resilient Force, and incisive poet/activist A Scribe Called Quess? More information at https://torrestama.com/index.html
While Teatro Sin Fronteras LLNL does follow the late night chat show format, with its 7pm start and 75 minute length, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it and still get home to watch the actual late night shows. They, however, might seem slick and cheesy after the rich authenticity of Teatro Sin Fronteras Latin Late Night Live.
Although some upcoming productions have been canceled or postponed due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, others are forging ahead. Here are some of them. Check with the individual theaters for details about their COVID protocols.
Jefferson Performing Arts Society opens its 44th season with the dark comedy God of Carnage, a 2009 Tony winner originally written in French by internationally acclaimed playwright Yasmina Reza.
God of Carnage takes place during one evening in the lives of two couples who meet to resolve their eleven-year-old sons’ violent playground fight. The result is a brutal war of words between the “grown-ups” that reveals the savagery beneath polite conversation.
New Orleans native Donald Jones Jr., an actor/director/choreographer who spent seven years performing in Broadway shows before returning home during the pandemic, directs a cast comprised of David Haydel Jr., Reagan Lincoln, Jennifer Schemke, and Jake Wynne-Wilson.
Neighbors behaving badly? What could be more fun! Carnage runs Sept. 17-Oct. 3 at Westwego Performing Arts Theatre (177 Sala Ave.). More info and tickets at https://www.jpas.org/performance/god-of-carnage/
Meet magical aunties, too-clever wolves, wicked stepmothers, foolish devils, and determined ghosts in Tell It To Me Sweet, The NOLA Project’s fall show appearing in NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Written by Brittany N. Williams, the play will have you wander through tales from spooky to strange in this brand-new look at five very old stories pulled from European and African American fairy tales and folklore.
Directed by Torey Hayward, Tell It To Me Sweet plays an erratic schedule from Sept. 22 to Nov. 14, due to other activities in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden’s new addition. For further information go to https://www.nolaproject.com/tell-it-to-me-sweet
In the spring of 1955, Johnny Cash walked into the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and the music world was never the same. Not long afterward, Terry Lee Goffee put his first Cash record on a turntable and his world changed too.
In World’s Greatest Johnny Cash Experience, Goffee promises to become Cash, from the moment he walks onstage until the end of this 90-minute tribute show. Among the 34 songs that will be included are such Cash classics as A Boy Named Sue, I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, and Folsom Prison Blues.
World’s Greatest Johnny Cash Experience plays at the WWII Museum’s Stage Door Canteen on weekends September 17–26. For more information and tickets, go to https://www.nationalww2museum.org/programs/worlds-greatest-johnny-cash-experience-terry-lee-goffee
And Aqua Mob, New Orleans’ first and only community-based water ballet ensemble(!), returns for its fourth season of water ballet production with SuspiraAcqua: A Haunted Water Ballet, running September 20, 25, 26, & 30 in the pool at the Drifter Hotel (3522 Tulane Ave.).
In SuspiraAcqua, Suzie Bunion (Amelia Lombard) decides to perfect her dance studies in the
most famous school, the Academy of Drift Haus. But she arrives to find mysterious forces at work that are both frightening and exhilarating. Through song, aquatic dance and flag spinning, SuspiraAcqua will celebrate the fabulousness of confronting terror.
Written and directed by Alayne Gobeille, the cast of SuspiraAcqua includes four-year Aqua Mob veteran Jeff Waguespack, and returning ballerinas Victoria Cvitanovic, Laura Zoe Humphrey, Joseph Stein, and Shelley Nicholson. This year, Aqua Mob also welcomes to the cast Jenny Campbell, Madeline Corcoran, Jenie Fessel, Jenny DeLong, Anna Metcalf, Laurel Sheridan, and Bronwyn Walls in addition to Lombard.
Doors open at 7pm, the show dives off at 8pm, and tickets are available at the door and at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/suspiracqua-a-haunted-water-ballettickets-167251841761
Sounds like a blast! The only thing better would be if Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky could be in it!!