Antonio Prieto Stambaugh: The Mutant Sponge from Estridentópolis

The Mutant Sponge from Estridentópolis

Performance is a mutant sponge that absorbs and transforms all expressions of performing arts, social movements and sociocultural theories. By making noise, this very powerful sponge has the ability to shake the structures that surround it. In Mexico, its history is linked to the legacy of the Estridentista movement, which emerged from the ashes of the Mexican Revolution to propose the first underground avant-garde of the country. During the 1920s, the movement sought refuge in the city of Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz, which came to be known as Estridentópolis. It is in such movements of political exile and artistic dissidence, in communities of creators who resist demagogy through critical humor, that the mutant sponge of performance finds a key strand of its genealogy. Estridentismo created a type of performance called “The Mexican Bat Theater,” a hybrid show that combined folk dances with urban satires, with characters ranging from rural charros to "fifís," or city dandies. This performative “Bat Theater” takes us across the borders of space and time to meet the Chicana poet Gloria Anzaldúa, who was inspired by the bat god of the Indigenous Zapotec culture to theorize the ability of border-crossing artists to see the world upside down.


Antonio Prieto-Stambaugh is a professor and researcher in the School of Theater and the Center for the Study, Creation, and Documentation of the Arts at the Universidad Veracruzana, where he is also Coordinator of the graduate program in Performing Arts. He is a member of Mexico’s National System of Researchers (SNI), specializing in contemporary Mexican theatre and performance with a particular interest in artists who work on issues of gender, the nation, sexuality, and ethnicity. He holds an M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM). He has edited four books, including Jerzy Grotowski. Miradas desde Latinoamérica (Universidad Veracruzana, 2011) and Corporalidades escénicas. Representaciones del cuerpo en el teatro, la danza y el performance (Universidad Veracruzana, 2016), with con Elka Fediuk. He is currently Director of the journal Investigación Teatral. Revista de artes escénicas y performatividad.