FROM THE ARTIST
Historia de Amor (Love Story) was inspired by Régis Jauffret’s eponymous novel which captivated us for a variety of reasons. First, the characters. They are urban creatures yet their particular psychopathologies are the fruit of an obscure, deep, and contemporary loneliness that ties them to a sick and uncontrollable fate.
And then of course, there is the narrative. The story follows the mind and actions of a psychopath which forced us to search, design, and build the evolution of his relationship with the victim. This enabled us to deepen the impulses of both characters in an attempt to access the complex labyrinths of the human mind, which not only encompass humanity’s darkest impulses, but also our collective drive toward acceptance and love.
Finally, there is history. We found a story that explores invisible violence within an intimate relationship, a violence that retreats under the passive gaze of society. This is a story that is especially about impunity: the impunity of rapists, torturers, and all the people who commit abuse of all kinds and die without ever receiving the punishment they deserved.
We do not necessarily strive to send one particular message to the audience, but rather we want to stimulate a broader discussion about violence in today’s world: gender violence, spousal violence, military violence, and even the silent ideological violence of our current socio-economic system. This very system is what continuously strips us of our humanity.
Human relationships that develop in our monstrously large cities often are grounded in emptiness and loneliness, as we become unable to live our lives in relationship to and with others. Instead of forming relationships that make us grow spiritually and emotionally, we lock ourselves in our homes to perceive reality through television, media, and the internet. In total abandonment of ourselves, we dive into webs of dubious information and empty entertainment that fill our time without ever contributing to our personal growth. These behaviors dehumanize us and make individualism prevail above all things, above all. — Teatrocinema
ABOUT THE WORK
Contrary to what the title might suggest, this is not a sentimental love story. After enduring years of abuse, Sofia eventually acquiesces to the professor’s unabated advances, but her passivity is in no way to be confused for complicity. Sofia’s story of violence is one among countless others that are all too often collectively rationalized as misdirected expressions of love rather than upheld as the transgressive acts they truly are. This piece is uniquely informed by Chile’s own violent past; The creators, Juan Carlos Zagal and Laura Pizarro, were both adolescents when General Augusto Pinochet imposed military rule in 1973, and subsequently were deeply influenced by the suppressive politics imposed on the lives of Chilean citizens during seventeen years of the ensuing dictatorship.
Due to the graphic nature of the work, Juan Carlos Zagal and his team sought a visual aesthetic that would make the story more approachable, but that would still position the viewer as a voyeur and even a passive accomplice. The company has worked with a comic-book aesthetic and a black- and- white palette in various iterations since the early 1990s, but Historia de Amor (Love Story) necessitated the creation of a new digital program to more fluidly integrate light, sound, and gesture. The company’s mission is to make the actors appear to travel as quickly as possible through time and space. To create their signature visual effects, the artists use two projection screens. The first, a translucent scrim, divides the stage from the audience and functions as the screen onto which animated images are projected and with which the actors are able to interact. Behind the stage is another screen that the company utilizes for the projection of background images and scenography. Through a deft combination of mirrors, digital imaging, and intricate staging in which the actors must operate as a synchronized band, Teatrocinema achieves a seamless integration of live art and cinema. The fusion of the two media uniquely highlights the fragmented, solitary psyches of Sofia and her captor with more nuance than theater or film could accomplish separately.
Teatrocinema’s engineering extends beyond visual aesthetics and into the musical components of their work as well. As a company, they hope to influencethe viewer’s responses with a carefully constructed soundtrack much in the same way film, particularly of the noir genre, uses musical scores to emotionally frame the action. Zagal, a self-taught musician, composes music for nearly all of Teatrocinema’s work. Historia de Amor (Love Story) has twenty-five musical themes that underscore and accompany reoccurring images and/or specific sequences. To create these sounds, Zagal combines live harmonica and guitar with synthesized and digitally generated sounds.
Given the myriad of technical achievements necessary to bring the company’s vision to fruition, it is not surprising that Historia de Amor (Love Story) required a production team of more than nineteen people. Teatrocinema strives to create a fully integrated experience; aesthetics and sensorial input are as important to the company as the viewer’s intellectual experience of the work. It is without question that this piece is a visual celebration of Teatrocinema’s technical mastery. Even if you disagree with the content, we should be careful not to disqualify this piece from serious consideration as it remains a legitimate, albeit unsettling, exploration of the intersection among art, politics, and the politics of art.
The production opens in an underground subway station, as an English professor first encounters a woman named Sofia with whom he immediately becomes obsessed. The audience soon witnesses the incriminating actions of a man who is unable to delineate his fantasy world from that of reality: he follows Sofia from the station to her house and physically assaults and rapes her. The story follows Sofia’s numerous attempts to escape him as his violence escalates. She seeks legal intervention, but she eventually falls victim yet again, this time to the modern penal system, and is left to face her assailant alone.
Historia de Amor is in Boston for a limited engagement this month. See it live APR 21 – 24 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre.