If there is a country that knows how to portray disempowerment, physical and psychological torture, and the devastating effects of taking away someone’s basic human rights, it is Chile. Between the years of 1973 and 1990, Chileans lived under a military dictatorship that has left its mark on their country to this day, especially in the realm of artistic expression. Back then, theater companies were forced to close their doors; artists disappeared during the night, to never come home again; and books were burned in public spaces. Anyone who dared to think different from the government became a target. It was during these difficult years that a group of young students created a theater company called La Troppa, which means “the troop.” They chose this name because they wanted to represent “a troop of artists marching across the demolished horizons of the cultural decay that [Chile] had been pushed to.” Later, in 2005, La Troppa dissolved and Teatrocinema was founded by two of its original directors.
Its name says it all: Teatrocinema combines aesthetic elements of theater, film, comics, and television. In their own words, Teatrocinema is a multidisciplinary collective interested in creating a new language for theater—a language that blurs out the lines between essential elements of theater, film, and comics. While other companies are interested in telling stories, Teatrocinema focuses on the “how” of storytelling. With the use of innovative technology and acting prowess, Teatrocinema redefines the very concept of reality: what you think you see on stage is the result of the juxtaposition of screens, mirrors, lights, and the carefully rehearsed movements of the actors. Their singular language on stage invites the spectator to a journey that awakens their senses, their minds, and their souls. That is the goal of their theater.
This April ArtsEmerson is bringing Teatrocinema’s Historia de Amor to the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Historia de Amor was adapted from Historie d’amour, a novel written by French author Régis Jauffret in 1999. Don’t be misled by the title, though. Historia de Amor twists our most fundamental understanding of the word “love” and adds layers of darkness to it. As artistic director Laura Pizarro said, “it is about [the] lack of rights, about fragmentation, about the devaluating of the human being.”
Teatrocinema is the theater of fragmented art forms and fragmented people. Just as they dissect film, comics, and theater into their basic components to later create a spectacular amalgam on stage, their stories portray fragmented lives. In “Historia de Amor,” the characters have been touched by corruption of the mind and soul, isolation, violence, and abuse. It is a story invites you to think about power, and how it can be used to either make or break another person—a theme that the founders of Teatrocinema are all too familiar with.
Historia de Amor runs at The Cutler Majestic Theatre APR 21 – 24, 2016 in Boston.