Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: Nohayquiensepa (No one knows) - continues to March 27 in Toronto

Review: Nohayquiensepa (No one knows)

Leading Latin-Canadian company in intercultural and interdisciplinary performance Aluna Theatre presents
Nohayquiensepa (No one knows)
A Requiem for the Forcibly Displaced

The Theatre Centre, Toronto - continues to March 27, 2011

Inspired by events in a Colombian river town on the edge of great violence and by reports on the activities of Canadian mining conglomerates, artists from Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Serbia, Uruguay, and Venezuela investigate the connections between our lives here in Canada and those who live in places where human rights violations are common.

Nohayquiensepa is described as a multimedia project, but I'd go even further and call it a multi-layered approach to performance. It combines both traditional and contemporary interpretive dance, video projection - sometimes with live drawing (from a booth underneath the seats) -  and spoken lines, sometimes all at once. In one segment, four of the performers speak their lines simultaneously as they back up from the edge of the stage in a row, two in English and two in Spanish, passing a microphone back and forth between them so one story is elevated above the others at any given time. In another, hands on the projected screen take a number of torn pieces of paper from an envelope and gradually and methodically reassemble them into a letter from a man who's afraid because his complaints against the mining company have led him to be identified with guerillas (as opposed to the paramilitary units) and therefore a military target, all while dance and theatrical performance takes place on stage in front of the screen.

There are sound effects, business presentations that show profits and loss, and a voice that recites a seemingly endless list of names of the assassinated - among many other elements director Beatriz Pizano has used in this intriguing production. The result I found somewhat hypnotic in effect; I was trying to absorb it all as it happened. What emerges from the cacophony of impressions are snippets of stories and scenes: the woman who finds a severed hand in the river and wants to give it a name, or the company executive and his placating speech days after a "tragic incident".

It doesn't tell a neatly packaged story with a clear beginning, middle and end, but in that sense I'd say it more closely captures the real experience and anguish of the people who live in these areas of the world, where this kind of chaotic violence has existed for decades. The performers and collaborators deliver an engrossing and dedicated performance of an inventive production.

Nohayquiensepa grew into its present state gradually over a couple of years, beginning as a project that looked to combine video and stage performance. It's the result of a collective creation process with the help of choreographer Olga Barrios and performers Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Lilia Leon, Victoria Mata, Beatriz Pizano, Chris Stanton and Mayahuel Tecozautla with sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne, costumes by Andjelija Djuric, assistant direction and stage management by Heather Braaten and live drawing by Lorena Torres.

About Aluna Theatre:
Founded by actor, director and playwright Beatriz Pizano and scenographer Trevor Schwellnus, Aluna Theatre is a multiple Dora Award-winning Latin-Canadian company that creates original works that showcase cultural diversity, reflecting the many aspects of the Canadian multicultural experience with a focus on Latin American and women artists. Its plays deal with pressing social issues, seeking to inspire social change. Aluna brings Human Rights to the forefront, distinguishing their risk-taking work both at home and internationally. Previous works include For Sale (2003, two Dora Awards), Madre (2008, two Dora Awards), La Comunión and more. 

Images (Photo credit: Katherine Fleitas):
• Beatriz Pizano
• 2nd & 3rd - L-R: Chris Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Mayahuel Tecozautla, Beatriz Pizano
• Photo #1 L-R:  Victoria Mata, Chris Stanton

• If you're unsure about this issue, I'd invite you to read this paper prepared by Tim Clark for the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University (CERLAC) and MiningWatch Canada in 2003 - and in particular have a look at page 22.

Aluna Theatre presents the Toronto premiere of Nohayquiensepa (No one knows)
A Requiem for the Forcibly Displaced

Directed and designed by Trevor Schwellnus
Choreographed by Olga Barrios
Featuring Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Lilia Leon, Victoria Mata, Beatriz Pizano, Chris Stanton and Mayahuel Tecozautla
Sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne, Costumes by Andjelija Djuric
Assistant direction by Heather Braaten, Live drawing by Lorena Torres

• Opens March 15 and runs to March 27, 2011
• At The Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen Street West
• Tuesday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 2:30pm
• Gala on Friday March 18, 8pm - $75 tickets, no discounts
• Tickets: $20 (Tue-Thurs), $30 (Fri-Sat), $15 (Sundays, Student / Senior / Equity, Groups of 10+)
• Box Office:  416-538-0988 or online at  or

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