The second edition of the Buenos Aires Shakespeare Festival starts today, with a range of plays and activities taking place throughout the city, centred around the great English writer’s works. Running through February 19, the festival brings together theatre productions staged by national and international artists, Renaissance dance and music, theatre and opera, which promise to bring a fresh new understanding to William Shakespeare’s timeless writings about the human condition. Admission to all activities and events is free and open to the public.
Activities kick off today in the Polo Circo between 5 and 9pm, with the opening of the The Medieval Village. Reenactment groups create a functioning European medieval fair with a range of activities including jousting; arming of the knight and vassals; workshops on calligraphy, dance, archery, fencing and fighting; and stands where visitors can purchase medieval-style handicrafts.
Also today at the Polo Circo, check out Los bailarines de Arda, a dance performance featuring authentic choreography, costumes, scenery and music played by period instruments. Presented by the Ardo Liltamor Renaissance dance group from Europe and the Beltain Medieval music ensemble, the event offers a glimpse into the 14th to 17th centuries, and a good option for those afraid to delve right into Shakespearean language.
If you’re looking for something more Shakespeare-oriented, head to the Shakespir Show at the Polo Circo, a musical theatre show featuring songs inspired by the work of Shakespeare in the style of ancient bards. Presented by Los Carlinga y La Pomponio, the show presents scenes from Shakespeare’s plays in a festive atmosphere typical of a fair of yesteryear.
For a spectacle truly original, head to Gustavo Garabito’s Macbeth puppet show in the Polo Circo. This verse adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy is the perfect thing for Porteño audiences, telling the tale of the king of Denmark using lunfardo dialect. The puppets, which are versions of pupi siciliani, are flat cardboard figures inspired by the work of visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, help to create a modern-day urban hip hop influenced version of this theatre classic.
Tonight at 10pm at IMPA – La Fábrica Centro Cultural in Almagro, catch a performance of Mantua put on by the Teatro Sanitario de Operaciones (TSO). The play, which is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, presents a visual narration of the dream that Juliet has as she lies in the crypt waiting for Romeo. Using an unconventional approach to tell the tale, TSO uses self-built props and combines the elements of fire, air, water and earth alongside music styles that include jungle, trance, tecno-tribal and electronic.
While most functions run throughout the festival, some shows and activities only take place once. Don’t miss the Shakespearean bike ride tomorrow at 10am in the Costanera Sur and surroundings. Participants must bring their own bikes and register in advance at www.festivales.gob.ar.
Also happening just one time, the staging of opera Romeo y Julieta: Celebración de amor, which takes place Sunday, February 19 at 8:30pm in the Anfiteatro del Parque Centenario. And this Tuesday for Valentine’s Day, head to a romantic outdoor screening of John Philip Madden’s movie Shakespeare in Love at the Anfiteatro del Parque Centenario at 8:30pm.
Some of the festival highlights you won’t want to miss include an English language production of Sergio Amigo’s A Lover’s Complaint, a one-man show originally staged in London, which plays with Shakespearean verse and explores the dramatic elements underlying Shakespeare’s poetical output. The show, which stars actor Daniel Kelly, runs Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm in the Centro Cultural Recoleta. Also not to be missed is Italy-based clown trio Filarmonical Clown, who stage Amleto Avvisato Mezzo Salvato, a comedy centred around the jester Yorick from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The show in two acts takes place next weekend on Saturday and Sunday at the Polo Circo.
If you’re keen to learn more about Shakespeare’s writings or deepen your understanding of the plays you are watching, the festival also offers an educational programme running parallel with the shows, including workshops and a master class that takes place on Tuesday at 2pm led by international Shakespeare experts Penny Cherns and Stanley Gontarski.
Where & when
All festival shows and activities are free, but many require advance ticket pick-up at the Casa de la Cultura (Av. De Mayo 575) from 11am to 7pm, or advance online registration at www.festivales.gob.ar. For the master class and other events that do not require a ticket, admission is on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to venue capacity. For a complete list of festival venues, events and times, visit www.buenosaires.gob.ar/agendacultural.