Borderlands Theater has made an art out of reaching across the border.

And it will do that in a very literal way with its upcoming “Encuentros en La Frontera/Encounters at the Borderline” theater festival.

The nearly monthlong festival opens with previews tonight of two one-act plays, “Maria’s Circular Dance” and “Trash.” Those run through March 2.

Then they head to Mexico City, where the productions will play at El Circulo Teatral.

“Maria’s Circular Dance” was penned by Mexican playwright Medardo Trevino and translated by Eva Tessler, who also directs. The story is about a Colombian migrant who is kidnapped. Reality becomes blurred; courage steps in; terror rises. Ultimately, she and her kidnapper see themselves in each other.

Playing with “Maria’s” is Kara Hartzler’s “Trash.” In it, a female detention center guard finds herself in a position of power over a male detainee. Hartzler wrote “No Roosters in the Desert,” which Borderlands commissioned and staged in 2010 and again in 2011. It was a powerful piece culled from interviews with women who had attempted to cross from Mexico into Arizona. Marc Pinate is the director.

The festival is rounded out by a series of staged readings:

“El Ausente” (Absence) by Victor Hugo Rascón Banda. Rascón, who died in 2008 when he was 59, was one of Mexico’s most exciting playwrights, often exploring political corruption. “El Ausente” will be performed in Spanish at Wedneday’s reading and in English on Feb. 23.

On Feb. 22, there is a reading of “They Call Me a Hero,” a new play about Daniel Hernandez, who was key in saving Gabrielle Giffords at the 2011 shootings. It is by Chilean-born playwright Guillermo Reyes, who heads the playwriting program at Arizona State University.

No other theater in Tucson does what Borderlands does — stage plays that speak to border issues and border people, telling stories that illuminate issues, joys and hardships. It often does so eloquently and always with heart.