What happens when art – produced for artistic rather than commercial purposes – is at risk of becoming an endangered species? Art is a sacred cultural notion that allows humankind to express itself and to save us from our self-destructive condition. But in a system that promotes a concentration of power and resources, there is a risk that art will eventually lose its freedom and become nothing but another link in the business supply chain.
Dramatic art has been struggling for a long time not to let spectators fall into the skillful hands of the commercial world. But it is also our responsibility as theatre-goers to look beyond the big budget productions on Broadway (or Av. Corrientes in Buenos Aires) and support local plays as well as emerging actors and directors. Fortunately, Buenos Aires is cluttered with little theatres and cafés which are ready to welcome independent proposals. Here is a round up of some of the best alternative plays currently showing.
24 Horas Viraje:
A telephone call in the middle of the night will change Betina´s life forever. The action is developed in a hospital where the most terrifying, yet side-splitting, events are waiting to shatter her quiet existence. This is an incredibly dynamic play which generates nail-biting suspense to the end. Irina Alonso´s lead performance is outstanding, and the script is neat, ironic and precise. Irina’s long monologues do not seem to be a problem for her, she deals with them in an astonishing way: prosody and acting work hand in hand. Although acid at times, it is comical and people laugh constantly. Definitely not to be missed if we are eager to watch a play in which direction, acting and script are harmoniously intertwined creating a superbly hilarious black comedy.
Por Culpa de La Nieve:
This play intends to get immersed into the mysteries of Nordic literature from a realistic point of view. The setting is Belgium, the weather is cold, and an Anglican family is forced to accept the fact that their father is going to prison. It is not easy for the children to lead a quiet life while their dad is serving the sentence – his absences triggers a series of catastrophic and tragic circumstances that will change this family’s destiny. The production pretends to draw a parallel between a foreign country and a play. A play will always feel like a country we know nothing about; the actors are undocumented and will have to struggle in order to be able to build and define their identity. This is a highly recommendable and original play with cinematographic scenes that remind us that cinema and theatre can still influence each other.
Por Culpa de La Nieve – written and directed by Alfredo Staffolani. Fridays 9pm, Teatro del Abasto, Humahuaca 3549 (behind Abasto Shopping Centre).
Isabel and Cordelia are two sisters in search of love and freedom. However, to do so, they will first have to discover their true identity as well as their strengths and weaknesses. They only have each other, and it is precisely this fraternal love that will help them dive into an inner exploration that will consequently allow them to find what they are looking for. We might immediately be reminded of Shakespeare’s King Lear, and that was squarely the group’s intention. They started exploring the play’s effects on today’s society and that led to a new and independent project. It would be interesting to analyse which elements ‘Ley Lear’ shares with Shakespeare’s masterpiece and to allow ourselves to be immersed in a fearful, violent, silent and oppressive atmosphere. This is an opportunity to look at Shakespeare through the eyes of 21st century actors.
Ensayo sobre la Gaviota:
Anton Chejov and Tennessee Williams together. Too good to be true! Marcelo Savignone’s proposal is once again enormously appealing. Ensayo sobre la Gaviota is a combination of Chejov’s 19th century play La Gaviota – a play centered on the amorous and artistic conflicts of Nina, Konstantin, Trigorin ,and Irina and their incapacity to let the past go and to allow newer and fresher waves modify the longstanding structures and Russian parameters – together with Williams’ adaption, ‘The Notebook of Trigorin’. Savignone’s interpretation is courageous and respectful. Long live our gracious realistic playwrights! Such a poignant play deserves to be watched once and over again.
Ensayo sobre la Gaviota – an adaptation by Marcelo Savignone, directed by Marcelo Savignone. Sundays 8.30pm, La Carpintería Teatro, Jean Jeares 858.
Lead image by Francisco Civit