International Hispanic Theatre Festival Opens at Arsht on Thursday

In a city that is as diverse in lifestyle and taste as Miami, the International Hispanic Theatre Festival (IHTF) -- presented by Teatro Avante Thursday through July 24 -- has been singular in churning out quality stage productions from the Spanish-speaking world every year for a quarter century. Some of the productions, ranging in style from the mythical to the comedic, have had sizeable casts, while others have been solo performances. But each has left an impression as the IHTF has made good on its promise of introducing Miami to a dazzling and eclectic mix of plays from varied and talented Spanish-language playwrights. Since the festival's inception in 1986, the IHTF has evolved into an internationally recognized, multilingual, multiethnic cultural event, making it the only theater festival of its kind in the country.

"We try to present some of the best productions from Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. to a very diversified audience eager to experience theater works from their country of origin," says Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the theater festival's director and chief organizer. "The Festival tries to be inclusive in all respects and presents some plays with titles in English, [and] dance and dance-theater for the benefit of the non-Spanish speaker as well."

Since 2008, the festival has chosen to showcase a specific Latin

American country. Past seasons featured Spain, Colombia, and Mexico.

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This year, it's Chile, which boasts a growing and thriving art scene,

says Sanchez, who attends the country's Festival a Mil every year.

"Chile is a country where most of its youth has something to do with the

arts, either as a student or as a member of the audience," Sanchez

says. "All the festival's theaters are filled to capacity. Sometimes the

oldest members of the audience are in their 30s. Chile is definitely

building the audience of tomorrow."

This year's Miami festival will showcase plays by Chilean playwrights,

feature a photo exhibit dedicated to the country, and hand out its

annual Lifetime Achievement Award to Chilean actress Delfina Guzmán.

Also the IHTF commissioned Chilean artist Jaime Ferrer to design the

festival's 26th-anniversary poster.

Look for the extended preview of the International Hispanic Theatre Festival in this week's issue.

For more information about the IHTF and Teatro Avante, visit

teatroavante.com. Tickets for shows at the Adrienne Arsht Center cost

$29 general admission, and $24 for students and seniors. Call

305-949-6722 or visit arshtcenter.org. Tickets for shows at Prometeo

Theatre cost $25, and $20 for students and seniors. Call 305-237-3262 or

visit prometeotheatre.com.

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