World Wide Virtual Theatre Carousel
Joahnna Berti and Bruce Naokwegijig visit Villa El Salvador in Peru, to meet partners from the World Wide Virtual Theatre Carousel, March 2012.
In early March, the World Wide Virtual Theatre Carousel invited the partners to meet in Villa El Salvador, in Peru. The city, close to Lima, is as remarkable as the company Arenas Y Esteras, that calls this town its home base. Villa El Salvador is home to 400,000 Indigenoous people. The community was identified by the United Nations, as The City of Hope. Their community structures are modeled after those of post revolutionary Cuba. In acknowledgement of the remarkable accomplishments of the people, they were gifted the doves, by the United Nations in the mid seventies. Artistic Directors Ana Sophia and Arturo M. hosted Artistic Director, Jorge B. Merced from Pregones Theatre from the Bronx, Bruce Naokwegijig and Joahnna Berti from Debajehmujig and Mia Grippe from Sering in Belgium. We spent a week together meeting and discussing the projects we were all collaborating in (Icons and Symbols, Three Is Enough- Teen Identity and Indigenous Creation Stories from around the world) and those we hope to accomplish in the coming seasons.
The week was full of eye opening and engaging performances by the young company, opportunities to witness some of the remarkable community engagement programs for children and youth and the beautiful new facility. The facility has a children’s area, like the Manitoba Theatre for Young people, scaled to fit small children and their parents. Arenas Y Esteras believes that creativity starts in childhood and that parents should have time and a place to creatively play with their children. The impact on the whole community is visible.
The company provides a full system of supports for developing and emerging artists, some local youth work in studios a few times a week, others have worked with company over the past twelve years and continue as full time artists in the current professional company. Part of their daily practice is to eat together, share their meals and their lives. This forms the foundation of many elements in their work. The work is community engaged, celebratory at its very heart and searching always, for ways of bringing the stories of Indigenous Peruvians together with the great diversity of Indigenous cultures within the country.
The week culminated with a trip to Lima and a tour of the new National Arts Centre. This is a state of the art performance facility and concert hall that accommodates up to 1,500 audience members at a time. World class symphonic performances, opera, classical theatre and solo performances of International artists are all planned for this symbol of a new national pride and more inclusive national character.
Peru is a country of fascinating contracts from the ornate Spanish churches of the 1500s to the modern architecture, glass towers and housing global corporations. The week was completed by a presentation and press conference with the Minister of Culture to explain the creative and technical accomplishments of the World Wide Virtual Theatre Carousel. All partners from South Africa, New York, Manitoulin Island and Antwerp, Belgium were present online in the “virtual office” to demonstrate the process of collaboration among the participating organizations.
We hope to host Arenas Y Esteras in 2013 on Manitoulin with our other Carousel Partners and share our own community engaged programs and our professional work.