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The 324-seat Juan Moisés Calleja Theater in Mexico City, owned by the IMSS health service. The 324-seat Juan Moisés Calleja Theater in Mexico City, owned by IMSS.

IMSS health service turns its attention to staging theater productions

At least two per year are planned by the institute, which owns 38 theaters across the country

The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), best known for providing healthcare services, is pouring money into its network of theaters and plans to stage at least two major productions a year.

IMSS owns 38 theaters across the country and has invested 37 million pesos (US $1.9 million) this year to renovate 12 of them.

Next year, it plans to restore the Monterrey Theater in Nuevo León and the Linterna Mágica cinema in Mexico City at a combined cost of 80 million pesos (US $4.2 million), while an additional 27 million pesos will go to theater maintenance.

One of the recently restored venues is the 324-seat Juan Moisés Calleja Theater on Reforma avenue in Mexico City, where a play by Elena Garro about the life of revolutionary general Felipe Ángeles will be staged.

IMSS social wellbeing coordinator Olga Georgina Martínez Montañez told the newspaper El Universal that the idea to stage the play came from a presidential commission tasked with organizing events that commemorate the events and figures of Mexican history. IMSS director Zoé Robledo and other high-ranking government officials are members of the commission.

“The idea is to recognize figures of Mexican history that have been forgotten or unfairly remembered as is the case with Felipe Ángeles,” Martínez said, claiming that the staging of the production will mark the commencement of a “new era” for IMSS theaters.

The play about Ángeles, after whom the new Santa Lucía airport will be named, will cost just under 3.2 million pesos for 100 shows, she said.

However, Martínez stressed that the staging of the play and the restoration of theaters are not funded by resources that would otherwise go to IMSS healthcare facilities, which have suffered shortages of medicine and personnel this year.

“There is a special allowance that finances all these activities; we’re not taking anything from healthcare. We operate with our own resources and we’re not competing with healthcare or with Social Security’s other obligations. What we’re doing is reinforcing [IMSS’ services] because everything related to leisure, entertainment and culture benefits human beings, families and society as a whole,” Martínez said.

However, El Universal noted that she didn’t clarify the source of the “special allowance” funds.

Martínez revealed that another play by a “very well-known Mexican playwright” is also in the works. IMSS is seeking an agreement with the Secretariat of Culture to stage the production, she said.

Martínez explained that the aim of the federal government is to reactivate all the activities that IMSS has undertaken in the past. The network of theaters was created to improve the quality of life of all Mexicans whether they are IMSS beneficiaries or not, she said.

Fourteen of the 38 IMSS theaters have “a very active agenda,” the official said, while most of the others only stage productions sparingly.

Three theaters that are currently not in use – located in Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Nuevo León – will be completely restored in 2020, Martínez said.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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