Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

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Ghost of Caesar Pt. 1 – Resurrection

We arrived in Bogota late Saturday night. The next day starting in on rehearsals. Lots of new casting changes and a few new actors in the mix so there was a lot of work to do…. for everyone but the jazz trio.

We basically had a day off on Monday so we went to the old historic part of Bogota, a neighborhood called La Candelaria. Before I go much further it must be stated for the record that this tour would be in dire straits without the translating expertise of Marianne Solivan, the vocalist for the trio. She is fluent in Spanish and has ironed out more than a few conversations during this week that were wrinkled messes of Spanish, English and French. What we saw on our trip to La Candelaria was powerful, scenes of great wealth and great poverty, both of which are burned in my memory. Cities all over the world display this disparity but it was in sharp focus that day for me. We had a long walk, visited many historic sites and marveled how the Andes literally cradle this city. They tower over this sprawling urban center like a stoic reminder of some ancient truth. The most beautiful part of Bogota however, has to be the Colombian people, who are generous, friendly, and very welcoming. We stopped at a wonderful cave like restaurant to hydrate at the end of our day called the Bruja (witch in Spanish). They had amazing fresh fruit drinks and empanadas. They called us a cab and we had the wildest ride home I’ve ever experienced. The fist half was all speed and twisting turns on the main road beside the mountain. There are very few traffic lights in Bogota, cars and motorbikes merge, swerve and stop on a dime with just centimeters to spare with the grace and poetry of a bullfighter. I am sure once and awhile someone gets the horns but our journey was more of the graceful sort (although not without its downright terrifying moments). The second half of the drive was what most of Bogota commuting is all about… traffic jams. I have never been in such heavy traffic. LA, Boston, and NYC have got nothing on Bogota when it comes to the daily commute. We have learned quickly here to add an extra hour or so to any commute time.

Tuesday and Wednesday was back to work – and I mean work! The actors and the crew especially had some intense days of rehearsal. Tuesday was a 13 hour rehearsal day, and Wednesday we ran the show (3.5 hours long) twice, once as a dress rehearsal and then we had opening night. With just four days of rehearsal, a crew of Colombians, French and Americans who could barely speak each other’s languages, 4 cast members in brand new roles, and altitude related fatigue we all pulled together and put on a great opening night to a very engaged and receptive Bogota audience who loved both the play and our music.

‘Julius Caesar’ or ‘Julio Cesar’ in Spanish, was brought to Bogota as part of the Festival Iberoamericano De Teatro, the worlds largest theatre festival. Many of the shows are smaller productions, our production is what you would call epic, it is a large scale show that is very lengthy with a lot of complicated text (Shakespeare) and a big cast. Plus it has us, the jazz trio playing behind and between the action. It is an amazing honor to be involved with such a production on a world stage such as this. Here is a very recent article from the Miami Herald about the positive impact of this festival on Bogota, Colombia and South America.

We have 4 show left and I will post again after a few more adventures and many more empanadas. Adios.

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