The Under the Radar Festival is the Public Theater’s January festival of new theatre. The festival always includes some Latin artists.
17th Under the Radar Festival 2021
To keep New Yorkers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 17th Under the Radar Festival is virtual at publictheater.org from January 6-17, 2021. FREE
The festival is always inclusive, but this year there is an emphasis on Black voices. Black Lives Matter has cracked opened doors for Black artists. The Public Theater gets it and has long been ahead of society in its inclusive stance, but doors are opening everywhere for voices of color. If you are one of these voices, now is the time to get in the game.
A lot of creative juices are stewing during COVID-19 lockdowns. When the pandemic winds down in Fall 2021 or in 2022, there is going to be an explosion of creativity (just like after the 1918-20 Spanish Flu pandemic).
The “New Roaring Twenties” begin in 2022. Just like Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, a lot of the culture of the New Roaring Twenties will be Black and Latin culture coming out of New York City.
Espíritu from Chile
This year from Chile 🇨🇱 comes “Espíritu” (Spirit) by Teatro Anónimo (Anonymous Theatre), written and directed by Trinidad González. It’s a very Chilean take on how the human spirit is perverted by rampant consumerism that leads to a spiritual dead end.
American culture of the United States teaches that you can be happy if you just buy more stuff. Of course that is not true. We keep buying more stuff. It doesn’t make us happier, so we seek bigger thrills by buying even more stuff, but end up even more unsatisfied.
This style of protest theater is very popular in Chile. Chileans have a unique perspective on social issues from the experience of the Pinochet dictatorship (1974-1990). It was like a very long Black Lives Matter protest vs the Chilean military (with the full support of the U.S. government).
Protesting just to protest is a waste of energy. The important issue is not so much the problem, but rather the solution. How do you decouple yourself from your own cultural imperatives? Swimming against your own cultural currents takes a high level of maturity. Chileans have been actively working through these issues for a long time. Perhaps the answer is Espíritu.
“Espíritu” is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Borders & Crossings From Nigeria & the UK
“Borders & Crossings” by Inua Ellams is produced by Fuel Theatre. Ellams is a multicultural (Muslim/Christian) poet and playwright who moved to England in 1996 as a pre-teen to escape sectarian violence in his native Nigeria 🇳🇬.
The poet speaks to the issues of migration through the lens of his own experience. It should be said that in spite of all the nationalism going on now, humans have been migrating since we started walking on two feet. Migration is normal.
There has long been conflict in Africa between Indigenous, Islamic and Christian faiths. When Ellams moved to England, he must have also encountered racial tension.
This is stuff that we all have to figure out now. One of the main accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement has been to get non-Black people to acknowledge the injustice and systemic nature of racial violence. Admitting we have a problem is the first step, but now what? As we continue our decolonization process and rebuild from COVID, how do we build more equitable societies?
It will be interesting to hear the poet speak. Ellams joins the festival from London.
publictheater.org (Borders & Crossings)
More Under the Radar Festival Shows
There are eight performances including a couple by Iranian artists. Persians are not Latin, but they are another society that has been demonized by United States politicians.
Why do we demonize everyone? It’s ironic because Persian culture is one of the heritage cultures of Europe and European faiths. Most of us don’t even know where we come from. Right now, Iran is a very controlled society so being an Iranian artist is not easy. They work in a frame of protest just like the Chileans and many others in this series.
One of the hallmarks of Public Theater productions is thoughtful social commentary on the big issues of the time. This year’s Under the Radar festival is no different.
publictheater.org (entire festival)