During the current government shut-down, the In Series, opera and more, is even harder at work than usual. As if in answer to the current crisis, it is getting intensely political and deeply human, using music and drama to engage directly with the most hot-button issues of today: human migration, political and geographic borders, and the effects of a wall on human life.
In a sort of cultural reverse-colonization, the In Series takes "La Verbena de la Paloma," Spain's most beloved zarzuela, and sets it at the US/Mexico border between Tijuana and San Diego, where a migrant woman from Central America, deported when seeking asylum in the US, waits for news of the daughter from whom she's been separated.
This English and Spanish language version is written by Washington poet and translator Anna Deeny Morales. Young Mexican composer Ulises Eliseo has arranged the original score by Tomas Breton for an ensemble of traditional Mexican son jarocho instruments, and incorporates traditional Mexican songs. The production includes dance by Corazon Folklorico, a Washington, DC based Mexican folk dance company. The set for this production is a community project to build a replica of the border wall and decorate that wall with mural art depicting the immigrant experience. A host of free ancillary events will involve a community fandango (a public Mexican street festival of music and dance from the area around Veracruz), as well as community forums on art and migration, public folk dance lessons, and a final party to "tear down this wall."
"The act of making art, giving utterance to experience, is inherently a political act. In the Summer of 2018, when we planned to commission and produce this new version of "La Verbena de la Paloma" set in the thriving cultural economy of the borderland around San Diego and Tijuana, we had no idea that this issue of a boarder wall and the themes of this work would become only more resonant and relevant as we neared production of the work. I am proud that we're able to give immediate voice and response in the form of music and theatre."