Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Teatro A Mil Festival-Santiago, Chile 2016
From January 19 through January 24, I spent time in Santiago, Chile, a surprising city that is more first world than we would ever imagine. It has the most multi-national corporate head quarters in all of Latin America as well as the highest sky scraper. They have an amazing street life with out door cafes and live theater throughout the city. I attended the Teatro A Mil festival so named because when it started you could get a ticket to one of the shows for only a thousand pesos which was like a dollar hen. Now, of course with inflation the tix have increased in price but nevertheless they are still very affordable for the folks of this world class city.
I saw about thirteen shows while I was there and after having been at the Under the Radar festival the week-end before my two week trip included about 22 shows in total. It was a fair amount and I made sure I didn't over do it but rather treated it like a good piece of art, you want enough space around the work to fully view it's beauty or intention.
I was particularly taken with Teatro Cinema. This is a company that is native to Chile and has been around for over twenty years. What they do with film and live actors is so evocative and skillful. The story was about a small town woman in the desert of Chile who is known for recounting the stories of films. The title of the piece was La Contadora de Peliculas. Since there was so little to do in her town, and only one movie theatre that was expensive for some of the townspeople, her father would send her or one of her brothers to the cinema and then their task was to come home and act it out for the other family members. And so, having done this since she was a youth, she became very famous throughout her region and people would ask her to come to their homes or their gatherings and entertain them with her re-enactments. The piece was beautifully sad. And the visuals were a feast. It only had four actors working with props juxtaposed against the projected film. Loved it. Angelinos will be able to catch the company in the Spring at REDCAT with their Historia de Amor.
So many people are working in this arena. There is the group from Chicago Manuel Cinema that is working with shadow puppets and also film. I've met a couple of their artistic directors one at Under the Radar this year and the other last year (2015) in Groningen at the Noorderzone Festival. The company is made up of designers, visual artists and directors. I don't believe they've been to Los Angeles but considering the work they do, LA would be a good spot for them. http://manualcinema.com/
In Santiago, I also saw a show called Feos (Uglies) that was told through two very realistically rendered puppets that were manipulated by a team of four people. This was a beautifully rendered story also with film about two people who have glass eyes and who fall in love. Guillermo Calderon the Chilean playwright who now lives in New York City adapted a short story and thelanguage is so evocative and sensitive. It's a fine delicate work. .http://www.fundacionteatroamil.cl/obras/feos/
I'd love to put these three works together and present them. They're such a great example, and believe me there is more out there, of work that is pushing the boundaries of new ways of telling theatrical stories. I find them extremely inspiring and I so wish we had more ways at our regional theatres to present this kind of work and share with our audiences these new forms that are invigorating our field.