Tales of the US Border in Theatres Around France

Posted by Speakeasy News > Monday 24 February 2020 > What's On

San Francisco theatre company Word for Word's annual French tour is being postponed to the autumn. This year their show is a coming-of-age story by Mexican-American writer Octavio Solis, Retablos: Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border. They will perform it in Nancy, Paris, Angers and Lyon.

For 25 years, Word for Word has been taking prose pieces and acting them out without changing or missing a word. This time their subject is Solis’s memoir of “growing up brown” in El Paso, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The interesting twist is that Solis is an acclaimed playwright, who is amused to see his first prose work turned into theatre.

His teenage parents moved north of the border in the late 1950s, when his mother was pregnant with him. They joined his mother’s mother, who had already migrated to the States.

His memoir is a series of tableaux or retablos, “votive images painted on old beaten tin”. The rituals and rites of passage take on an archetypal aura as the young Octavio grows up between two languages and two cultures in a sort of twilight zone between two countries.

The shows planned for March and April have had to be postponed since the company can't travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Word for Word plans to tour instead in November, which would give you time to prepare a class project on the book, which fits beautifully into themes such as Représentation de soi et rapport à autrui, Identités et échanges or Expression et construction de soi. Updates can be found on the company's tour site.