Cuatro propuestas escénicas en la Ciudad de México: Teatro Panamericano, de las Artes, de Medianoche y la Linterna mágica (1939-1948)

Four staging proposals in Mexico City: Pan-American theater, theater of the arts, midnight theater and the magic lantern (1939-1948)

Guillermina Fuentes Ibarra

UNAM - Dirección General de Publicaciones y Fomento Editorial /CONACULTA / INBA-CITRU
México, 2007
300 p.

(Theatre and Dramatic Literature Collection)

The work of four groups is studied as a “representative token”. The founders of these groups excelled in the teaching profession in order to create their own schools —during the period stretching from 1939 to 1940, by the end of the government of Lázaro Cárdenas, during that of Manuel Ávila Camacho and by the start of that of Miguel Alemán. They performed stagings with innovative proposals which, in different ways, strove towards a modification of theater as it was during that time. These groups are: the Teatro Panamericano or Pan-American Theater (1939-1943), a bi-national cultural enterprise directed by Fernando Wagner, with casts made up of actors from Mexico and the USA and stagings spoken in English. Almost all of their seasons happened in the Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes); the Theater of the Arts (1939-1941), a theater-school founded by Seki Sano, which had its seat and sponsorship in the Mexican Union of Electricians (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas) —this represented the beginning of Sano’s adventure in Mexico as a stage director, acting trainer and creator of a radical popular theater—; the Midnight Theater (1940), of Rodolfo Usigli, where, in the same manner as a semi-professional repertoire company, and without official sponsorship, Usigli directed and produced a season of short comedies characterized by being “from the light and open to the subtle and modern” and which strove to attract new public to the theater; finally, the Magic Lantern (1946-1948), directed and organized by Ignacio Retes, also sponsored by the Mexican Union of Electricians, with a repertoire of Mexican and foreign plays with a marked revolutionary ideology. The monograph chapters follow a thematic order including: notes on the life and work of the directors of the groups; information on the objectives, proposals and purpose of each group; use of stage space; casts; manner of work within the group; performance of plays and seasons for the public; critical follow-up; iconography with documents and pictures of the ensembles and estimates on achievements and contributions. The introductory chapter delineates a wide view of the theater life in Mexico City during the period of study. The annexes include a chronology of presentations, transcripts of the programs of the different seasons, the Theater of the Arts School curriculum and a glossary of names.