Graham Reynolds + Shawn Sides + Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol

Pancho Villa From A Safe Distance
Nov 16 - 19, 2017

$23 | $30 WEEK OF • BUY TICKETS Merrill Wright Mainstage

RUN TIME: 1 hr. 15 min.

Sung in Spanish and English with supertitles for both


Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance is a bilingual cross-border opera about the enigmatic general, legendary bandit, and hero of the Mexican Revolution.

Commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, the opera is the third installment of The Marfa Triptych, a genre-hopping trilogy of musical performances by visionary Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds. Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance is an insightful examination of the Mexican and Mexican-American impact on the culture and politics of West Texas, contributing current conversations about borders and the limitations of the concept of delineated states. In this epic closing chapter in The Marfa Triptych, Reynolds experiments with an exciting hybrid of composition and production techniques while leading an eight piece ensemble to bring a libretto by Mexico City-based Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol to an intensely visceral and intimate life. The opera is directed by Shawn Sides, a founder and Co-Producing Artistic Director of theatre collective Rude Mechs based in Austin, TX. 

Exploring facts from Villa's biography while also examining the mythology surrounding him, the opera will ask what Pancho Villa means to Mexican and American culture and where these meanings intersect and conflict. The opera brings together artistic collaborators from both sides of the river to engage in a borderless conversation about the shared history between Mexico and the United States.


Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance (Pancho Villa Desde una Distancia Segura) es una ópera bilingüe y transfronteriza sobre Pancho Villa, el general enigmático, bandido legendario, y héroe de la revolución Mexicana. 
Encargada por Ballroom Marfa, el proyecto es el tercer episodio de The Marfa Triptych (El Tríptico de Marfa), una trilogía que aborda diferentes géneros compuesta de actuaciones musicales por parte del compositor visionario Graham Reynolds. La ópera es un análisis profundo del impacto mexicano y mexicano-americano en la cultura y la política del oeste de Texas, que contribuye a la actual y oportuna conversación acerca de las fronteras y las limitaciones del concepto de estados delineados. La opera está dirigida por Shawn Sides, fundadora, directora artística y co-productora de el colectivo teatral Rude Mechs, basado en Austin, Texas.

Aparte de explorar la biografía de Villa y examinar los mitos que la rodean, la ópera se pregunta qué significa el arquetipo de Pancho Villa para la cultura mexicana, la cultura estadounidense y si estos significados se cruzan y chocan entre sí. La ópera reúne a colaboradores artísticos de ambos lados del rio para participar en una conversación sin fronteras acerca de la historia compartida entre México y los Estados Unidos.



Called “the quintessential modern composer” by the London Independent, Graham Reynolds composes and records music for film, theater and performance with collaborators ranging from Richard Linklater and Jack Black to DJ Spooky and Ballet Austin. He is Artistic Director of Golden Hornet Composer Laboratory, a member of the Rude Mechs theater collective, resident composer with Salvage Vanguard Theater, and received the 2016 Creative Capital Award for the Pancho Villa chamber opera. 

Shawn Sides is a founder and a Co-Producing Artistic Director of Rude Mechs in Austin, TX, where she has co-conceived, co-adapted, and directed a new work every year, give or take, since 1996. Shawn is an Alpert Hedgebrook Prize recipient and was included with her fellow Rudes into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame in 2010. She is also a 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award recipient. 

Founded by Luisa Pardo and Gabino Rodriguez, Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol are Mexico City based artists making projects that link work, life, and erase borders. They seek to clarify and articulate, but also to disrupt and unravel notions of biography and history. Their work highlights how arbitrarily history is constructed. But their aim is not to correct the record, rather to put the emphasis elsewhere, to change narrator, create perspective, and make up stories.