In this article I will attempt to recount as well as I can, how the conscience of what has been said above is manifest in our current work in Bolivia where I arrived in 1995 as a guest of the Teatro de Los Andes and where, at the end of 1996, I re-established the Teatro del Ogro (Teatro dell’Orco) in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
[…]The principal aim which we had for after the debut was to bring the show to the Guaranì, the mythology of whom made up the bones of “El Cuento el Karai”. In October of 1997, thanks to a small grant from the Schwimmer Foundation, of Cochabamba – Bolivia, and thanks to the Teatro de Los Andes which lent us its worthy Toyota Land Cruiser from ’70 which doggedly hauled a trailer for two thousand kilometres of broken road and impossible paths, we managed to leave for a “tour” of twenty days among the Guaranì communities of Bolivian Chaco, carrying the show to them as well as some improvisations based on exercises and material prepared specifically for the trip.
Finally we were able to verify the level of communication of our work in front of an indigenous audience in their environment, few of whom speak Spanish.
Our play tells the mythical tale of a Tupi-Guaranì people (the Guarasug’wé) from their creation to their extinction. The text is in Spanish with some parts in Guaranì. We knew that the topic of the show and the fragments of texts in Guaranì were the only elements which we would have in common in terms of communication with that audience through the play, the evocative force of which had to be entrusted to images, the quality of the actions and the musicality of the words of the actors.
We decided to leave our unwieldy iron stage background prop and substitute it with ropes and wire to hang our curtains and make do with what we would find in terms of stage space, utilizing to best effect the natural characteristics of the place.
After three day of travelling we did the first performance at La Brecha, the central community of Izozog as well as the location of a branch of the CABI (Capitanía del Alto y Bajo Izozog), the strongest and most organized indigenous body in Eastern Bolivia. At La Brecha the people are more used to receiving foreigners and to seeing video cameras in action compared to other communities. Many already knew me due to my previous visits – “Ese es el italiano de las patas largas” (this is the Italian with the long legs) they said, laughing, remembering the stilts. Our arrival aroused much curiosity and for them it was an occasion for having fun with something new. In a few hours word of our arrival spread in the neighbouring villages too and when on the following night the hospital generator enabled us to switch on our lighting system which lit up the semicircle of the “stage”, around it were more than 400 people of all ages awaiting with the patience of one who is looking forward to the start of a party. Before beginning, I wanted to say a few words of thanks and to introduce the event they were about to witness. I went to the centre of the space along with don Justo Mandiri, our friend and Guaraní guide in Izozog who was entrusted with interpreting for us. But the simple fact of going to the centre and raising a hand to call for the audience’s attention caused the people to start to applaud which deep down gave me the impression of being quite artificial even if they were doing it with much enthusiasm.
While listening to my brief presentation they applauded another two times, and when in the end I said that during the show it was not necessary to applaud since silence would enable them to follow the story better and that, if they really wanted, they could applaud at the end, their reaction was to applaud once more. It was so amusing that it caused everyone to laugh and led to an atmosphere of trust for the start of the play, which provoked responses ranging from amazement to laughter in the silence of the Chaco night and which was shattered only by the applause at the end.
In any case the custom of applauding acquired by the audience of La Brecha, demonstrated to us once again how the culture of noise continued to conquer the culture of silence.
Fiore Zulli – June 1998
Article published in Spanish in the visual arts magazine of the Teatro de Los Andes:
“EL TONTO DEL PUEBLO” N° ¾ – PLURAL EDITORES – Bolivia, June 1999.
English translation by Brian McCarthy
se interessati all’intera storia e ad una eventuale pubblicazione in italiano vi invitiamo a contattarci per mettere a disposizione l’intero materiale