When we talk about theater, we usually talk about Broadway or the West End for obvious reasons. I live in Mexico City and a few years ago my interest in theater started and I realized that there were lots of plays, musicals and performances that I’ve never heard of in my own city.
It’s probably because of the lack of promotion of small shows, because big productions like Wicked, The Lion King or Les Misérables, have posters on every corner, the cast gets interviews in famous Mexican talk shows, the newspapers have something to say about them on their entertainment section, but it’s because the main characters are played by big stars or people that is known for being a movie star or a singer. On the other hand, I understand why going to the theater is not cheap and I know that people rather spend money on other stuff that is probably more necessary but without entering into that issue, it’s true that society has no attachment to arts in general.
Seeing a play or a musical it’s kind of a privilege starting with the fact that the theater community is only in Mexico City where there are also many schools or places where you can attend different workshops. The ones that live in states like Chiapas, Guerrero, Colima, Veracruz, etc. have to travel all the way to the city if they want to study arts in a good and recognized school. Now imagine if people from those places go on vacation, of course they’ll be going to important spots like the zócalo, the anthropology museum, the Bellas Artes palace or even the Chapultepec forest, but they’re not going to a small theater to see a monologue
Maybe it has something to do with education and the fact that not in all schools art classes are as important as subjects like Math, Science or English. From my perspective, there’s a time when you have to search, if you want to find treasures. Talking about theater, I started following accounts that talk about it and a podcast that has interviews with actresses, actors, directors, dancers, singers and people from the theater community, every week with a new guest; that’s when I found that there’s always something to watch: school plays, dance performances, remakes, drama plays, comedy plays, monologues and even musicals. So if I was really interested in a story, I searched where it was, how much were the tickets, reviews, pictures, the cast and sometimes the music, so I could have a little background knowledge about it.
Rescently, I went to watch The Pillowman and I was really surprised by the story but also how with few elements, it made me feel a lot. Of course I think it’s because the talent of the cast and the great job behind it, like the vision of the director, the planning of the stage and the lights and even the translation of the text. It was such an experience because I was discovering every plot twist for the first time. It’s sad that even though the play won prizes last season in the METRO Awards (that are like the TONY Awards here in Mexico City), it only returned for two months and again not many people knew about it. But also it’s a cycle every show has and that’s why we need to go to the theater when we get the chance and support the artists and creators in our own cities.