We mean interactive

Former Violations The Ruth and Hell Starr take Suzan-Lori Parks to the people at the Mix for their Cantina Posada.

365 Days/365 Plays: Week 5
7pm Sun, Dec 17
Pass-the-hat donations
Colectiva Performance Group
1100 Broadway
Saying there’s a wrong way to do a cycle of Suzan-Lori Parks’s 365 Days/365 Plays might be like saying there’s a wrong way to eat a Reese’s, so this is going to be tricky …

To catch everyone up, Parks began writing a play for every day of the year in 2002, and the product premiered as a national festival in cities across the nation beginning in November. The idea is for 52 professional and amateur troupes from each city or region to take a week’s worth of plays each, thus filling an entire year with theater.

Here in South Texas, San Antonio’s La Colectiva took the reigns of festival coordination. And if last Saturday’s performance by the Alamo City Roller Girls’ Former Violations is any inkling of what’s to come, I would venture that La Colectiva has been successful in promoting creative, distinctively Texan interpretations of 365 Days.

Where was I? Ah, yes, “no wrong way.” The Former Violations chose to do their week-long cycle in one evening in three bars (two along St. Mary’s strip and one on Elmira). They called it “Cantina Posada,” and it was … it was something. It could have been better if I had been drinking, but nay, dutiful driver and critic that I am, I abstained.

Stone-cold-sober is not how I would choose to make the trek again — from Joey’s at 9:30 p.m. (OK, I had one rum and Coke there) to the Mix at 10:30 p.m. to SWC at midnight and a half — mostly because only about an eighth of that time was filled with theater. The remainder of the spell was spent leaning against various walls and pool tables, leading up to yet another argument with my boyfriend over American Beauty.

The themes of last week’s 365 cycle revolved around poverty, war, and marriage. With scripts in hand, the Former Violations acted whilst a narrator read stage direction — a nice touch, regardless of motivation. I was pleasantly surprised by the miming skills of the Former Violation’s “Honey Musthurt,” who pushed an imaginary vacuum cleaner in one play, and pretended to urinate from an invisible penis in another.

The concept of the Former Violations’ cycle was quite clever in theory. Promoted as “a re-envisioned holiday posada,” and an invitation to “venture into your gritty holiday spirit,” the performance had its impracticalities. Bars can be noisy places, so sound was certainly an obstacle. Because bars are also, at times (like Saturday nights) crowded, to have clear sightlines would have been a miracle.

However, a few things I was certain would be drawbacks ended up being utterly charming. For example, the reality that people drink in bars, including novice actresses, made the last few plays virtually incomprehensible — in a yummy, peanut-buttery kind of way. Moreover, due to the inebriation factor, heckling was inevitable. When an actress’s mustache — her male costume — fell off in one of the final performances at SWC, a crowd member cried out “Liar!” I’m not being snarky when I say that it really added a lot.

“Show us your tits,” not so much.


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