Besides obvious political and economic ramifications, the aftermath of September 11 challenged charities, nonprofit organizations, and small arts groups to rise from the ashes. The throng of thespians behind The International Monologue Festival, which debuted last year to acclaim, constitutes one such association. Alberto Sarraín and Lillian Manzor, codirectors of the Spanish-language event -- which paired exiled Cuban actors with colleagues from all over the world, including the island -- received approximately 200 proposals for 2002, and the number of artists and countries wanting to participate almost doubled. Nevertheless this past January the creators announced the shindig would be postponed until 2003. "We had such a great response last year -- we didn't want to lose the momentum," explains Manzor. "Unfortunately in spite of the fact that the festival wanted to grow, the budget had shrunk."
Luckily theater folks are masters at improvisation. Last year Sarraín and Manzor, with the help of others, presented a first-rate event on a shoestring. This year the show will go on too, billed as a minifestival of small-format works. With such stumbling blocks, it's apropos that Victor Varela, founder and director of Teatro Obstáculo (Obstacle Theater), is a key player. Varela, originally from Cuba and now living in Argentina, founded the first independent theater group in his native land. His play Monodrama Fourth Wall II will debut in Miami on Saturday, April 20. Accessible to non-Spanish speakers, the work is gestural in nature.
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Mini or not, the occasion boasts plenty of offerings: El Ultimo Bolero, a drama penned by Cuban playwrights living in Miami, and featuring celebrated Cuban actress Verónica Lynn; a screening of the award-winning Cuban film Video de Familia (also starring Lynn); Parece Blanca (She Looks White), a production by Miami's Teatro La Má Teodora, written by prominent contemporary Cuban playwright Abelardo Estorino; and a host of panel discussions and symposia.