Throughout 2016, Fundación Beethoven is screening several pre-recorded plays from the UK as part of the National Theatre Live global cycle.
The experience brings the talent of the West End to audiences around the world, and is akin to frequenting the cinema, but is in keeping with theatrical tradition, insofar as retaining breaks between the various acts.
Mìchèle Gonzalez Noguera, the manager of the foundation in Buenos Aires, hopes that the local audience will “take delight in viewing” some of theatre’s giants, adding that the aim is to “raise the cultural level of theatre” in Argentina by hosting such events. And non-English speakers can enjoy the productions, as they are all subtitled in Spanish.
There is most certainly a broad range of English-language productions to view, including such classics as ‘A Streetcar named Desire’, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’, ‘As You Like It’, and ‘Man and Superman’.
I went along to the screening of ‘Hamlet’, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in a stunning performance beyond his years. Back home in Blighty it ran for 80 productions and each performance sold out at the Barbican, ultimately becoming the quickest-selling production in London’s theatrical history.
Cumberbatch encapsulates the true sense of the human condition, the myriad of human emotions he experiences during his turmoil on stage are portrayed before an extremely captivated audience.
Perhaps most poignant is his depiction of raw lunacy, the sharpness of his thought, which juxtaposes with his deep yearning to be at peace with himself.
Unlike in live theatre, each detail can be carefully explored using different camera angles, depicting him from afar as an aloof character, while close-ups display the visible angst on his face, and focus on physical gestures, allowing the audience to scrutinise each detail of his performance.
Much of the natural comedy and melodrama in the play translates to an Argentine audience, proven in the sheer number of guffaws for Cumberbatch’s buffoonery on stage.
For an Argentine audience unfamiliar with British theatre, it will most certainly be an enriching experience. And for the many unable to see these plays live, the novel idea makes the West End accessible in Buenos Aires.
The performances are a departure from the foundation’s usual genre, and Gonzalez Noguera is hopeful that the cycle will attract a “different public” from their regular audiences, who are traditionally more au fait with orchestra or of a musical persuasion.
The current cinematic project, which brings the foundation solidly into the 21st century, will only serve to maintain its longevity in Buenos Aires. The foundation was founded in 1900 and commenced – as its name suggests – on more of an orchestral path.
Historically Fundación Beethoven offers its services for a wide scope of differing arts, which range from concerts, plays, lectures, tours and events, with the aim of promoting new promising talents in the country, which is one if its core values.
The cycle continues with ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (17th March), ‘Frankenstein’ (30th March), ‘Jane Eyre’ (14th April), and ‘Man and Superman’ (28th April). ‘Hamlet’ will also be screened again in October.
Tickets cost $150 can can be purchased in advance via Fundación Beethoven’s website, which also lists the foundation’s other activities. Fundación Beethoven is at Av. Santa Fe 1452, Recoleta.