A bridge that crosses borders
To go and see theater in another city may not be -the plan- every Sunday; now, imagine going to see theater in another country. The odds are less. However, in the Mexico-United States border of Tijuana-San Diego, a new project has begun that makes this a possibility; a reality. This border, known for being one of the most visited in the world, shares territory, economy, customs and, now THEATER.
Tijuana Hace Teatro (THT Tijuana Does Theatre) is a Company that integrates programs where new audiences come closer to theater; one of them is THT’s Audience School, in which a group of 20 people go to the theater for free during a year, and see approximately 50 shows: musicals, drama plays and dance shows targeted to young and older audiences, produced by local, national and international performing arts companies.
Since 2014, after participating in the annual Theatre Communications Group conference in San Diego, five theater companies became a part of Audience School; adding a bi-national phase to the project. This has allowed people and creators from both sides of the border, to get to know the theater that is being made in their neighbor city, better and up closer.
Every year, 20 participants of different demographics are selected and benefited with a scholarship from the theater companies in order to see performances. Every month, there is a session in which the ‘students’ share their opinion, experience, ideas and point of view regarding the shows they saw that month. Also, if there is a specific topic for the session like, for example, a dance festival or theater for children, an artist is invited to the meeting to discuss with the group.
This international collaboration has also strengthened the bonds with the San Diego theater companies, creating a more frequent cycle of visits just to see theater in both cities.
And, even though the topics and the audience’s profiles are different, creative ideas and proposals regarding children’s and teenager’s theater have emerged with this exchange; for example, La Jolla Playhouse’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, a musical creation based on the famous novel; and with Tijuana Hace Teatro, “¿Quién le teme a Espantapájaros?” (Who’s afraid of Scarecrow) and “Aeropuertático” (Airport-attic), in which the subjects are about kid soldiers and the grieving process of a child. This has helped show a bigger picture of what is being done in the region.
This is how the border has begun to be crossed from a theater perspective; not only with each generation participating year after year in this project but, also with artists’ generosity in both cities, as well as the support of those who opened the door for this bi-national relationship to take place (Theatre Communications Group and Enciso Consulting) and the theater companies which make this bond greater and allow for the program to grow. In Tijuana: Centro Cultural Tijuana, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Instituto de Cultura de Baja California, Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura, Teatro Las Tablas and Café Dionisio; In San Diego: Diversionary Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Moxie Theatre, San Diego REP and The Old Globe Theatre.