‘Real Women Have Curves’ play comes to Austin

Mark your calendar for Chancha Via Circuito concert, refugee photo exhibits


Check out top August cultural art events to do in Austin.

When the film “Real Women Have Curves” hit the big screen more than 15 years ago, it not only gave audiences a glimpse into the Latina immigrant experience but also highlighted issues such as body positivity and the strength of female bonds.

Set in a small sewing factory, a group of women share their dreams and struggles. Ana, the youngest of the workers, graduated high school but can’t afford college. Through their stories, we learn of inner strength and power.

Now, the bilingual comedy by renowned writer and producer Josefina López, will be presented by Teatro Vivo at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center from Aug. 3-19. “Real Women Have Curves,” originally a play, will be directed by Austinite Claudia M. Chávez.

“Women are the force of our community, of our homes,” Chávez said. “As such, we can lift each other to achieve things we have not even dreamed of doing.”

The all-female cast and mostly female production crew will bring a contemporary and fresh outlook to the powerful play. They’ve infused more Spanish dialogue where it made sense in the play, updated some lines and incorporated today’s technology to the production. Although gadgets and immigration policies have changed since the play first debuted in the 1990s, other things are timeless. “A lot of the struggles that women today face are similar,” Chávez said. Learning how to be comfortable in your own skin or with your weight “are all things we live every day.”

Earlier this year, “Real Women Have Curves” was back in the spotlight after many fans of the film grew upset when they noticed that the Oscar-nominated coming-of-age film “Lady Bird” by Greta Gerwig included many similarities to director Patricia Cardoso’s 2002 movie, which did not receive an Oscar nomination.

“Those things do have a weight on us,” Chávez said. “But it is up to us make sure we keep pushing forward.”

As a bilingual female director, she said she’s grateful to theater companies like Teatro Vivo that “open doors for women to push through,” she said. Chávez hopes women who see the play are inspired to connect with their mothers, sisters and girlfriends after seeing the production. “Every woman needs a tribe,” she said. “We need to embrace and celebrate each other instead of putting each other down.”

Performances Thursday through Saturday begin at 8 p.m. Sunday performances start at 2 p.m. For tickets, which cost $20 general admission and $25 for reserved seating, visit teatrovivo.org.

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Chancha Via Circuito brings musical mashups to Sahara Lounge

When South American folklore takes a journey into the future, you get the atmospheric rhythms of Chancha Via Circuito, an avant-garde project by musical trailblazer and Argentine DJ Pedro Canale.

This South by Southwest alumnus creates spacey, ambient beats that are inimitable. While several DJs in the digital cumbia music scene have emerged over the years by uniquely weaving traditional sounds with modern beats, Chancha Via Circuito elevates the Latin Alternative genre by experimenting with acoustic sounds and including electro-Andean beats that give a nod to the indigenous roots and instruments of Latin America.

Don’t miss what’s sure to be an enlightening performance for all music lovers Aug. 23 at the Sahara Lounge. Doors open at 8 p.m. Advance tickets, available on eventbrite.com, cost $15 and $20 at the door. Visit saharalounge.com for more information.

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Photo exhibits honors refugees in Austin

As Texas continues to grapple with the ongoing global refugee crisis, several Austinites are making sure that the powerful stories of refugees who settle here don’t go unnoticed. Two distinct photo exhibits this month feature the lives of our new neighbors.

In the traveling art exhibition “Refugee is Not My Name,” which highlights portraits, stories and a film featuring refugees in Austin, we meet people like Paula. She’s a Cuban refugee who at 60 years old loves to dance at the Broken Spoke. We also meet younger refugees such as 18-year-old Lambert from Tanzania, who dreams of becoming a doctor or musician.

The free exhibit, a collaboration between photographer Ashley St. Clair, writer Jess Archer and filmmaker Aaron Weiss, runs through Aug. 5 at the Central Library Gallery and gives visitors a chance to see the humanity behind the daily refugee statistics. Plans are in the works to display the exhibit at other Austin locations this year. For now, save the date for March 25-29, 2019 when the exhibit will be featured in the state capitol.

While the crisis touches people of all ages, the nonprofit GirlForward focuses on creating opportunities for girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution.

On Aug. 15, GirlForward will present an evening from 6-9 p.m. called “Identity,” which will feature a photography exhibit highlighting GirlForward participants, a documentary short screening by Gemma Garcia, music, food, drinks and vendors at Google Fiber (201 Colorado St.). Performers include all-female DJ crew Chulita Vinyl Club and international Arab jazz fusion group Indimaj. The $25 tickets available on eventbrite.com will support GirlForward programs such as mentoring and camps.

Check out girlforward.org to learn more about the organization and visit refugeeisnotmyname.com to get updates on the traveling exhibit.

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