Friday, November 22, 2013

Teatro 17-18: A thing I've learned, or Loza into Paula via Drut

OK!  As mentioned, my fourth Santiago Loza play was “Mal de montaña” and I saved it for a new post because it’s a good lead-in to a larger artistic phenomenon I’ve been noticing here.  M de M is directed by Cristian Drut, a well-regarded youngish BsAs director.  Kind of a North-America-process director in the way Loza is that kind of playwright: rather than developing things from scratch on an ensemble, Drut starts with an existing script and then casts and directs it.  (Often foreign plays in translation.)

The first thing one notes about the Mal de Montaña production is that it is SUPER chic.  Very disciplined and gorgeous in an extremely low-buck minimal way— a real example of how much you can do with very little, especially in terms of set and lighting.  (Mujer Puerca was another good example of this.)  Every moment of the play looked the cover of an album.  In fact this is the only production photo you’ll see on this blog for which I did the terrible thing of sneaking the iPhone out of my lap and taking a picture during the show.  The publicity stills are fine, but I just needed you to see.

But there's a more interesting thing about Drut’s approach here.  Mal de M, unlike Loza’s three other plays, isn’t a solo but a four hander.  Still very Loza though: most of the “scenes” are really monologues (tp which someone else occasionally adds “Wow” or “Really?”)  They’re all 20sth 30sth urban anomie young people and the stories have this nice combination of being very funny (as usual) in the beat-to-beat, which only partly obscures the stories’ overall dark-dark-darkness.  It doesn’t add up to a single narrative, which is fine, and for that matter I have to admit I’m not even sure how differentiated the characters are.  But anyway.  What Drut does is to run the sequence of scenes one into the next without pausing, and with nobody leaving the stage at any time.  So that even more interestingly, the people as they stay onstage can become different people— for example, the one woman in the cast kind of winds up “playing” all the different women referred to in the others’ stories.  And yes, I said “referred to”, because the actors often inhabit the scenes not as a participant of the scene but as a kind of manifestation of a person who is being spoken about.  And these roles don’t stay static in this staging— Drut sometimes swaps lines, so that the person who is “really” there—who is being spoken to (instead of spoken of)—can change during the course of the scene.  I thought this was a smart way to respond to what could be criticized as the maybe generic feeling of the characters— if the monologues feel a bit like cries from a whole kind of person, or even a whole generation, then why not have the production literalize that feeling?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Teatro 13-16: Loza

OK, I’ve been waiting a long time to write this one. Santiago Loza is one of the more exciting writer voices I've come across here. He's very popular here-- popular like, I delayed writing this because I'd seen three of his plays but there was a fourth up that I wanted to see before writing.  I’d missed a fifth that closed befre I could see it, and I just noticed a sixth has opened.  Which will not be reflected in this post. There is a limit after all.
Nada del amor me produce envidia: the revival

I may have made this side note already, but I may as well make it again: this multi-play thing isn’t quite as weird as it seems because 1) Plays on the “off” circuit can run a long time, like years, because they usually go one night a week.  The upside of this system is clear, the downside is that set and lights are forced to be simple (or maybe that’s another upside because the focus goes back to, ahem, the writing and acting?)  2)  In the “off” world at least, plays here are verrry short, so, you know, you can write more of them.  (There is one delightfully logarrheic playwright-exception to this rule, I’ll get to him in a later post.)  Under an hour is not uncommon, without there being any feeling that the play is a “one act” that needs to be paired with something else.  In some ways I like this— theatre is easy to go to here, a quick fun thing to do with some friends after cocktails and before dinner.  Occasionally, though, I do feel like there’s more play to be written on a given premise or character/s than we’ve been given, and I want the playwright to have not just stopped before the structure became too troublesome.  And I have wondered, if one were to try to import one or more Argy plays to the US, how much of a deal-breaker the shortness would be.

Nada del amor... the original.  Didn't see it.
Looks a little cheesy, right?
OK back to Loza.  It’s not that his plays are innovative in form or anything.  From what I’ve seen he’s at his most comfortable writing monologues, and the first three plays I saw (in order: Nada del amor me produce envidia, Todo verde, and La mujer puerca) were in some ways so similar as to be predictable: a 50-minute monologue spoken by a woman to whom life has been somehow unfriendly.  But also happily predictable was the way in which these characters' different voices were unusual, strange and beautiful and very very funny in the moment-to-moment writing, the pleasure of constant small surprises in the ways they think and process their odd experience of the world.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Brutal Deco

OK, so I've posted two items on the brutalist architecture that's such a feature of this city.  That's not the only architectural brutalism going on though.  Buenos Aires is famous for its Art Deco, and it's been interesting to notice how brutal it is as well.

I feel like the Deco style is often thought of as residing to a great extent in the ornamentation, but in my mind it's also about massing, and BA is full of these extremely austere, unornamented, but extremely deco shapes.
The most famous iteration of this is the Kavanaugh building, apparently one of the earliest skyscrapers.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Teatro 10-12: dancetheatre

OK, I’ve easily seen enough here to start doing this thematically.  So “dance theatre” (or, ok, “theatre”, as its practitioners prefer to call it) doesn’t have a really big purchase in NYC (does it?  If it does I don’t know about it.)  But there’s a certain amount of it here, in fact one very cool “teatro off” in Abasto (El Portón de Sánchez) provides a specific home for same.  We’ve been drawn to it partly because Nick can go without either our finding or me working up an english text.  So!  Three pieces:

La Idea Fija
The biggie of the genre down here: “La idea fija” (“Idée fixe” or maybe “the obsession”).  Been running for like 5 years, something of a sucés de scandale.  A dark and dramatic and occasionally funny meditation (in my reading of it) on club hookup casual sex, or maybe sex writ large.  Among other things this show demonstrates that it’s as true in Buenos Aires as anywhere else that if you make— and advertise — something dirtysexy enough, lots of people will buy tickets.  Which is really an overly cynical response to a piece that we did enjoy.