Samuel Buggeln, a New York theatre director and designer, is presently inÂ Buenos Aires, where he is researching theÂ ArgentineÂ theatre world.
This is part of a series of Samuelâ€™s special reports from Buenos Aires. See more at his blogÂ 25weeksbsas.blogspot.com.ar.Â
BUENOS AIRES | Â Â OK! Â As mentioned, my fourth Santiago Loza play was Mal de montaĂ±a,Â and I saved it for a new post because itâ€™s a good lead-in to a larger artistic phenomenon Iâ€™ve been noticing here.
M de M is directed by Cristian Drut, a well-regarded youngish BsAs director. Â 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. Â (Often foreign plays in translation.)
The first thing one notes about theÂ Mal de MontaĂ±aÂ production is that it is SUPER chic. Â Very disciplined and gorgeous in an extremely low-buck minimal wayâ€” a real example of how much you can do with very little, especially in terms of set and lighting. Â (Mujer Puerca was another good example of this.) Â Every moment of the play looked the cover of an album. Â In fact this is the only production photo youâ€™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. Â The publicity stills are fine, but I just needed you to see.
But thereâ€™s a more interesting thing about Drutâ€™s approach here. Â Mal de M, unlike Lozaâ€™s three other plays, isnâ€™t a solo but a four hander. Â Still very Loza though: most of the â€śscenesâ€ť are really monologues (to which someone else occasionally adds â€śWowâ€ť or â€śReally?â€ť) Â Theyâ€™re all 20sth to 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 storiesâ€™ overall dark-dark-darkness.
It doesnâ€™t add up to a single narrative, which is fine, and for that matter I have to admit Iâ€™m not even sure how differentiated the characters are. Â But anyway. Â 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. Â So that even more interestingly, the people as they stay onstage can become different people â€” for example, the one woman in the cast kind of winds up â€śplayingâ€ť all the different women referred to in the othersâ€™ stories.
And yes, I said â€śreferred to,â€ť 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. Â And these roles donâ€™t stay static in this staging â€” Drut sometimes swaps lines, so that the person who is â€śreallyâ€ť there â€” who is being spoken to (instead of spoken of) â€” can change during the course of the scene. Â I thought this was a smart way to respond to what could be criticized as the maybe generic feeling of the characters â€” 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?
Interested in reading more? Visit Buggelnâ€™s blog at: 25weeksbsas.blogspot.com.ar/2013/11/teatro-17-18-thing-ive-learned-or-loza.html
- REPORT FROM THE FAR FAR SOUTH | Brutal Deco in Buenos Aires (cultureofoneworld.org)
- The Vilambit and the Drut (3quarksdaily.com)
- “La del manojo de rosas” in Madrid (operamylove.wordpress.com)
- Authoring Works (bunrakubootlegs.wordpress.com)
- Buenos Aires protests over outages (bbc.co.uk)