FuturX Has a Labyrinth of Latinx Performance You Won't Want to Exit
Director and festival founder Rudy Ramirez has assembled exceptional artists into a maze of new and avant-garde Latinx performance
Rudy built a labyrinth.
It wasn't one for walking as a meditative practice (though Lord knows, in the aneurysm-inducing stress test that is 2020, that's not a bad idea). And it wasn't one for imprisoning a minotaur (though we can think of at least a couple of bullheaded politicians we'd be happy to see lost in one forever). No, Rudy Ramirez built this one for a party.
You see, the perennially busy theatre director knew that this year's FuturX Festival – the annual celebration of new and avant-garde Latinx performance that he founded in 2018 – would have to adapt to the virtual world we've all been inhabiting during the pandemic. But going the routine route of scheduling different performances on separate screens, as if they were all independent of one another, wouldn't really reflect the spirit of FuturX as he'd envisioned it. This is a festival in which identities cross many lines, draw from many communities. Histories are complicated. Heritages are mixed. No one is just Latinx. That identity that may overlap or blend with being queer, trans, Indigenous, Afro-Latinx, feminist, or other identities. That concept needed to be woven into the online incarnation of FuturX, and in contemplating how that should happen, Ramirez hit on the ideal metaphor for what he's now calling "Entra al Laberinto."
"Defining your identity as a Latinx person in relation to the larger cultural context can often feel like getting stuck in a maze," he wrote me. "You think you've got everything figured out and are on your way when you hit a wall and have to double back and try again. The very question of what to call ourselves as a collective, or if we should even have a name for ourselves as a collective, is a complicated debate with myriad perspectives. LABERINTO is about saying that if we're stuck in the labyrinth of Latinidad, we may as well have our party here. Each room is one particular turn in the maze, one path that might lead you to something you've never seen before or connect you with the thing you've been looking for."
Audiences will have six evenings when they can enter the labyrinth – Fridays and Saturdays, November 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 – and as they work their way from point to point in the maze, they may be surprised by what they encounter: Lotería fortunetellers and late-night rideshare drivers, burlesque dancers and divine tías, DJs and life coaches. What they shouldn't be surprised by is the host of exceptional artists bringing these figures to life, among them Jesús I. Valles ((Un)Documents), Florinda Bryant (Black Do Crack), Eva McQuade (Tia Chancla), Chola Magnolia (Fat Bottom Cabaret), Jessica Peña (Mexico (Expropriated)), and Ben Bazán (¡Ándale, Échale Ganas! With Coach Ben). The marquee event for the festival is ProyectoTeatro's Raza Cosmica, performed in the Vortex and livestreamed twice the closing weekend (Fri. & Sat., Nov. 20 & 21, 9pm). The work spins off from the 1925 essay La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) by Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos, who argued that the mixing of races in Latin America would lead to a new race that would in time produce a transcendent new civilization he called Universópolis.
We can't speak to Vasconcelos' vision of the future, but the vision of FuturX set out by its artists, Ramirez, and presenting companies the Vortex, Teatro Vivo, ProyectoTeatro, and Avante Theatre Project seems most transcendent. This is one labyrinth you may enter and want to stay lost in.