When their schedules allow, many artists who perform at REDCAT — this week count pianist Ana Cervantes and the Belarus Free Theatre company among them — work with students from CalArts to share both technical knowledge and practical insight for working artists.
In speaking to classes of composers, pianists and other musicians on Monday, Cervantes discussed in detail the solo program for piano that she’ll be performing at REDCAT tonight. Rumor de Páramo marks her Los Angeles debut.
The 17 pieces of the program, commissioned by the Mexico-based Cervantes, were inspired by writer and photographer Juan Rulfo, whose seminal 1955 magical-realist tale Pedro Páramo transformed Latin American literature, influencing writers like Gabriel García Márquez. (To inspire the composers even further, she sent each of them a copy of Rulfo’s book, an eerie novella of a family history that’s recounted by the murmurings of ghosts.)
The Rumor de Páramo program will feature compositions from both sides of the Atlantic: Paul Barker (England), Silvia Berg (Brazil and Denmark), Mario Lavista (Mexico), Tomás Marco (Spain) and CalArts Music faculty Anne LeBaron (USA) among others. (The piece featured in the above video is a comissioned composition by Chares Griffin titled “Murmuring in Comala.“)
While Cervantes’ residency was a brief one, Belarus Free Theatre company members have been at CalArts for almost two weeks working with performance and design students to develop and present short videos and conduct street actions that engage ideas of how activism can happen in local communities and the artist’s role as participant.
The company is devoted to presenting dramas by banned Belarusian playwrights, whose work it also translates and publishes abroad. Rehearsals and performances (always free of charge for the public) at home are normally held secretly in small private apartments, which, due to security and the risk of persecution, must constantly be changed.
The company’s production of Discover Love, which runs at REDCAT Thursday through Saturday (Oct. 1-3), is based on the true story of dissident Irina Krasovskaya and her husband Anatoly, who was “disappeared” 10 years ago. Their story is interwoven with parallel instances of political intimidation and violence in Asia and South America. Politics and social justice are woven into the fabric of Belarus Free Theatre, and residency programs like theirs allow students to see their own art as having the potential for political force.