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AtticRep’s Forum Theater Project: Don’t miss it

By Deborah Martin

Sometimes, the best thing about a free performance is the ticket price. That is definitely not the case with AtticRep’s “Borders and Walls,” the latest work in the company’s Forum Theater Project.

The basics of each Forum Theater outing are the same. Director Roberto Prestigiacomo chooses a topic; he and the rest of the company spend weeks researching that topic, including conducting interviews with people on every side of the issue; then they create a short theater piece. At each of the performances, the actors run through the piece once on their own, then they do it again, giving the audience a chance to take part as well. A discussion follows.

This year’s topic is the border, with a focus on immigration. The scope of the project is more ambitious this time around — the piece unfolds in three quick acts, with lots of moving parts; only the third act is repeated. There is also an additional work, a starkly moving movement-based piece performed by Susanna Morrow with a striking video by Ana Carillo Baer.

After Morrow moves offstage, the rest of the actors come on, moving into a few improvisational exercises before settling down to business.

The piece they have crafted follows an ill-fated trip across the border by a woman and her pregnant sister. The large cast — Sarah Bading, Marisela Barrera, Valerie Cortinas, Anna De Luna, Rick Frederick, Gloria Sanchez, Joel Settles and Andy Thornton — prove themselves to be masterful improvisational actors. They each dig deep, taking the story to unexpected places.

At Thursday’s performance, four audience members became “spect-actors,” stepping into roles in the piece and changing the dynamic.

The evening ended with a thoughtful discussion, which is, Prestigiacomo noted, the whole point of the enterprise.

There’s one more performance at 8 p.m. Friday (March 13) in the Attic Theater at Trinity University; admission is free, and seating is on a first come, first served basis. No reservations are taken. An abbreviated version will also be performed during Luminaria; the company is slated to take the stage at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center at 10:30 p.m. Saturday (March 14). For more information, surf on over to the company’s Web site.


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