Miracle Theatre Group Holds DIALOGUES WITH DON QUIJOTE, 5/12-26

Miracle Theatre Group, with support from Oregon Humanities, presents a series of three Quijote-inspired conversations with humanities scholars, artists and community leaders to investigate ways in which the characters of the Cervantes classic novel still resonate today, including leading second lives in virtual words; the qualities required of good leaders; and the influence of Don Quijote on contemporary culture.

The conversations, which are free and open to the public, begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, May 12, 19 and 26 at the Milagro Theatre (525 SE Stark St., Portland). Due to limited seating, reservations are suggested by calling 503-236-7253, ext. 114 or visiting  alejandra@milagro.org.

The three events are as follows:

SECOND LIFE, AVATARS AND POPULAR MEDIA, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In this first conversation, panelists and participants will discuss the creation of online personas, or avatars, to lead alternative lives in virtual worlds, such as the popular online environment Second Life. Don Quijote accomplishes a similar feat through his stubborn insistence on following his own personal vision of reality based on the 16th-century novelas of knighthood. He effectively creates his own reality by "becoming" a knight errant and living by the chivalric code, unfazed by the lack of understanding from the rest of the world; the creation of an avatar in Second Life provides a clear parallel. The conversation will address questions such as: Can the creation of an alternate identity in the digital world emerge as an equally inspiring journey? Would a whole-hearted adoption of an alter-ego, such as in El Quijote, be considered dangerous to one's "first life" or rather, provide the opportunity to live "the impossible dream?" Does the continuation of a second life in the form of an avatar present too much of a danger of addiction? We are also considering exploring the topic from the perspective of an actor by asking, How does an actor interact with their "second life?"

 GOVERNANCE AND GOOD LEADERS, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Throughout their adventures Don Quijote promises Sancho Panza an island of his own as reward for his service. When they meet the Duke and Duchess, literary fans of their travels, Sancho is granted the governorship of an Island. An uneducated peasant, his style of governance is humorous and based on folk wisdom, good sense and mixed aphorisms. His simple adherence to what he considers to be right and merciful results in a just and steady governorship. With this scenario in mind we will host an open forum on governance and the qualities required for a modern figure to wield power and implement change. The discussion will be launched by a short scene from the play depicting Sancho as governor of the island, and then focus on political figures from the Portland arena. How do people receive nominations, win elections and appointments? What provokes leaders to run for public office? What barriers stand between private citizenship and public service? What barriers exist for Latinos pursuing public office? How can the Latino population be encouraged to become involved?

CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE: UNIVERSALITY, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The final discussion will address the influence of Don Quijote on contemporary culture, featuring a preview of clips from the developing documentary of Professor Kate Regan of the University of Portland that explores the modern influence of the 400 year-old novel by Cervantes. Topics will include the literary influence Cervantes' work has wielded upon our modern conception of a hero and how Don Quijote's code of chivalry bridges the world of knights errant to today's concerns with social justice and equality. The conversation will also examine the difficulties of adaptation. How does an artist approach a classic? What liberties must be taken in order to achieve a personal work of art while paying a fitting homage to an old work?

To see the world through the eyes of Don Quijote is to embrace life as the fullest adventure. From windmills to wenches, this knight-errant, in the company of his humble squire Sancho Panza, continues to roam the world and haunt our imagination as he has for some four hundred years. And this lusty adaptation of Cervantes' classic - filled with a muscular theatricality - proves the power of imagination to overcome the vagaries of life.

El Quijote plays May 7-29, 2010 at the Milagro Theatre (525 SE Stark St., Portland). Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2:00 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20-$22 ($16 for students/seniors) from 503-236-7253 or www.milagro.org. There is one preview performance at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m., for which all tickets are $14. A complimentary opening night reception following the performance on May 7 will be catered by The Maiden restaurant. This production is sponsored by Urban Robotics and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit www.milagro.org.

The Miracle Theatre Group has been dedicated to bringing the vibrancy of Latino theatre to the Northwest community and beyond for more than 25 years. In addition to its national tours, Miracle provides a home for Spanish and Latin American arts and culture at El Centro Milagro, where it enriches the local community with a variety of community outreach projects and educational programs designed to share the diversity of Latino culture. For more information about the Miracle Theatre Group, visit www.milagro.org or call 503-236-7253.

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