Teatro Línea de Sombra: Durango 66 at the CalArts Theater in LA

Durango 66 production part performance, part protest

A dump truck deposited 10 tons of dirt outside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles for Teatro Línea de Sombra’s industrial-strength performance of Durango 66. This action signals a connection to the student protests that took place over 50 years ago.

The Lower Level of the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) has been transformed into something unexpected, involving construction vehicles, a giant mound of soil, and over-sized projections. A cavernous underground urban space doubles as a protest site reminiscent of the first days of action in the student movement against industrialization, collusion and corruption in 1960s Mexico for the installation piece Durango 66 or Duran66o, part of the Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art LA/LA.

“We took this event as a starting point to reflect on the social movements that have taken place in our country up to the present,” said Alicia Laguna, a co-director of Teatro Línea de Sombra. Revisiting this historical case may raise certain questions about what we are experiencing, she added.

The group draws a connection between the recent massacres in Mexico attributed to crime syndicates and government collusion, including the mass murders discovered in Durango in 2011, and other recent atrocities going back to the initial protest in Durango in 1966.

In 1966, the city of Durango and its inhabitants were covered in red, said Laguna. Students took over the Cerro de Mercado iron mine to protest the extraction of minerals by the Fundidora de Monterrey.

Teatro Línea de Sombra on Vimeo

The Durango 66 performance/installation takes us back to the actions carried out by the 1,500 students who took over the mine on June 2, 1966 in reaction to corporate privatization and exploitation of the country’s natural resources. They say that day was the beginning of the “Pro-Industrialization Movement of Durango.”

The group explains that the students blocked railroad cars to prevent the ore from being moved to the city of Monterrey. People still remember that they scattered a truckload of mineral earth through all the streets of the city, repeatedly for sixty-six days. They say the streets of Durango were dyed red due to the iron oxide in the soil. During the protests, fifty-seven public meetings were held in the Plaza de Armas, which were attended by more than ten thousand people. The students mobilized the inhabitants of that northern city without knowing that they contributed to the strengthening of obscure economic and political interests.

“The Compañía Línea de Sombra went to Durango in the winter of 2014, to investigate the traces of that history and those of its protagonists precisely when the country was convulsed politically by the disappearance of forty-three students of the Normal School of Ayotzinapa, who also “took by assault” five buses to travel from the City of Iguala to Mexico City, and attend the mourning rally to commemorate October 2. These connections were determined in the investigation that the company carried out in Durango. For this reason, in the scenic piece Durango 66, at the same time that the history of an old student movement is described, some aspects of the crisis of the current Mexican political system are updated. The work is offered as an urban facility for spectators to freely trace their own route.” –Teatro Línea de Sombra

Spectators can trace the history of the movement through a cluster of packing boxes, images, objects, stories, files and documents. It’s a chance to examine the dynamics of power, politics, abuse and resistance. It is a chance to listen to the echo of those voices raised in protest.

Performed in Spanish and English, with English surtitles.

DATE: January 16-18, 8:30 p.m. (Pacific Time)
LOCATION: Lower Grand, within walking distance from REDCAT
TICKETS: Tickets are available on a sliding scale to free entrance. The Box Office/Will Call is located at REDCAT, 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, California

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

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