Cabeza de Vaca: Shipwrecked in Texas
directed by John Cecil
Adapted from “Naufragios” by Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca
April 3, 4, and 5 only, 8 p.m.
Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W Riverside (click for map)
Cabeza de Vaca: Shipwrecked in Texas is a one-hour rock musical dramatization about survival and the challenges faces when being stripped of familiarity —almost beginning again, naked as a new born. Crank Collective reenacts Cabeza de Vaca’s countless adventures: from exploring under the command of Spanish government; to starving on unknown land; to being captured and enslaved; to learning Native American culture and customs; to escaping for good. This narrative-meets-musical gives exceptional insight with a upbeat twist into the outrageous life of Alvar Nuñez Cabezade Vaca.
Director John Cecil has again assembled a gifted team or performers to carry out his impressive vision with distinctive flair: and a cast of nine, a group of dancers, and a four-person band.
This one-hour show is part of Crank Collective’s Texas History Operetta series. Audiences will be treated with live musical numbers and witty performances by talented cast members. The production mixes de Vaca's engaging narrative with contemporary music and abstract costuming and set design. In November, Crank Collective will premiere the Alamo Operetta.
Cecil and Crank Collective have a history of producing edgy, satirical musicals. In 2011, their production Drone was nominated for an Austin Critics Table Award for Best Musical Production. Their first large production in 2009, the H1N1-themed Epidemic of Fear: The Influenzical, was performed to packed houses of national and international audiences. Insomnia followed with the idea of an Insomnia Patch, which would eliminate the need for sleep. Most recently in 2012, the sold-out Antarctica recreated a crew’s failed attempt to cross the barren arctic and gave an ironic tribute to Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton.
Cast and Ensembles The cast includes Spanish explorers Carl Guthrie, Phil Rodriguez, Dan Dalbout, Christian Huey, and Kristi Brawner. The Karankawa tribe members are played by Alexandra Russo, Douglas Rensi, Laura Burgess, Josh Meindertsma. The band is Mikey Walters, Jonathan Hoyle, Chris La Cava, and John Cecil.
About Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca Excited by rumors of gold, the 1527 Narváez Expedition set out prematurely and quickly fell apart. As means of escape, the fleet crafted primitive boats which later wrecked near Galveston island or “Malhado: The Isle of Misfortune.” One of four survivors, officer Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca was captured by tribes of the upper Gulf Coast including the famous Karankawa. Over the course of eight years, Nunez traveled through the Southwest and assumed many roles: a slave, a trader, a shaman and leader of a successful escape to Northern Mexico. After reconnecting with Spanish Colonial forces and returning to Spain, Cabeza De Vaca published Naufragios in 1537, which gave a detailed accounts of the “shipwrecks” and experiences thereafter. Due to his truthful details and personal encounters with several Native American tribes, ae is recognized today as a noteworthy proto-anthropologist and historical writer.
ABOUT CRANK COLLECTIVE Crank Collective is a sponsored project of the Austin Creative Alliance, a non-profit arts service organization, working to advance, connect, and celebrate Austin’s creative life. Cabeza De Vaca is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division.
JOHN CECIL: PRODUCER, PLAYWRIGHT, AND COMPOSER John has produced original work in New York, Prague, and even Bucharest, Romania. Working with Crank Collective, he brought the show Epidemic of Fear: An Influenzical to Austin in 2009 and then Drone in 2011 (nominated for an Austin critic's Table Award for Best Musical Production. John came to musical theater from the band perspective: he wanted more going on onstage than four guys holding instruments. The New York theater scene, not surprisingly, was a great place to create satirical rock musical comedies, always with a live band on stage. He later produced and directed original shows in Prague, Czech Republic and Bucharest, Romania.
(Click to go to the AustinLiveTheatre front page)