Saturday, October 18, 2014

Guanajuato and the Cervantino Festival

To Guanajuato, 350kms north-west of Mexico City, for the Cervantino Festival (FIC). Every October it takes over the town much like another festival takes over Edinburgh. There are other similarities. Both fests are very well established (67 & 42 years respectively), and both cities share a hilly topography with winding, cobbled streets & alleys. The extraordinary thing about Guanajuato, though, are the tunnels: the town is a rabbit warren of them, roughly hewn over many years and clogged with cars and fumes. The weekend is partly work but Liz & the girls are with me too - their first real escape from Mexico City - as is Edgardo & his son, so a nice family atmosphere. FIC is largely a performing arts festival. Each year there's a Guest Country (this year Japan) and over its three weeks it packs in 400+ events. There are a few British companies in town, partly supported by us and mainly in connection with FIC's Shakespeare 450 celebrations: the aforementioned New London Consort's The Fairy Queen, Tiger Lillies' weird version of Hamlet, and some NT Live screenings. Not British, but we supported it, is a project called Proyecto Ruelas in which amateur actors from disadvantaged communities perform mini Shakespeares in public squares. The Arditti Quartet and Michael Nyman were also in town.So we dipped in and out of some of these (and in and out of some exquisite buildings - particularly the grand old Teatro Juarez), finishing with a French sound & light installation in a giant cube; an empty, dull experience sadly. But what a town. It Is alive with people, color, music (including the inevitable Mariochas) and culture. Whether it's like this the whole year round, I'm not sure, but we're certainly impressed. 

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