Updated 1 month, 3 weeks ago

War stories: “Campo minado”

In 2012, Argentina's director and artist Lola Arias premiered at the Santiago de Mil Festival the production of "El año en que nací", a kind of continuation of her work "Mi vida después", where she staged a group of young people who told their lives and those of their parents in the military dictatorship. Although the concept that was coined to define the work was the documentary Theater, until that moment was not an idea assimilated properly in the local theater, although there were some companies that were already working in that direction as La Laura Palmer, the most outstanding grouping of this type of theater and that just had two of its members in this assembly: Nicole Senerman and Italo Gallardo.

"The year I was born" caused a great impact and became over the years a success of public, doing international tours. The seed left in the local scene has been evident, with three documentary theater premieres in 2016 that were the best of the season: "Those who came before" and "Daughter of the Tiger" (both of the company La Laura Palmer), and "Ñuke" (by Paula González Seguel). In that context Lola Arias came to Santiago to Mil to present his new installation: "Minefield" at the GAM Cultural Center.

Released in England (the critics said it was "An extraordinary exercise in excavating memory and staging history") and Argentina during 2016, the idea of departure is a tremendous power: to join six veterans Of war Argentine and English that fought in the War of the Malvinas, and to reconstruct their memories and experiences in a theater device. Product of an exhaustive casting in each country, Arias opts for a kind and even playful tone to interweave the stories of its protagonists: from the casting process that is recreated by them, to the way they present their own professions and activities are shown Initially in an almost descriptive way, drawing on various materialities such as testimony, recreation, support video, photographs or projections, in which the six protagonists introduce us to a level that we could call "informative" without a particular dramatic charge.


In a subtle way, Arias is weaving a dramatic thickness when the stories that connect with the 1982 war are echoed in the lives of the ex-combatants, when dramaturgy manages to enter these fractured spirits and we enter as witnesses of a horror that are leaving Revealing very slowly.

There are two stories that illustrate this idea. One is that of Vallejo, who acknowledges that after the war he fell into a long period of addiction to drugs and alcoholism, resentful of the government for the horror experienced. There is in his history a tremendous experience that the novel actor transmits admirably from a position of containment that shows the fissures of an abused life. Something similar happens with Armor, the professional military man who is recognized on the cover of an Argentine magazine and tells how an Argentine soldier dies in his arms. The interrogation of the brutality of the conflict and the decisions taken by both rulers (Thatcher and Galtieri, who are parodies with speeches and masks) are cracking the initial tone and we enter as spectators in a dark and rough narrative.

A particularly successful moment is when Sagastume rebuilds with video and toy soldiers a definitive episode that marked the war: when a group of his companions entered a house to look for food and on his return he stepped on a mine and they all died, being Was watching out for the only survivor. The person responsible for putting the mine was the Argentine army itself, who did not give the warning. It is perhaps the most specifically theatrical moment and it is noticed a meticulous work of emotional memory of the director and the chosen device (toys) to count the episode and enhance the story.

The tension between memory and history takes on a tragic flight without falling into manichaeisms or speeches. Despite the chosen materials (costumes, magazines, photos, the use of rock as an almost therapeutic device) the story is mainly oral but its effect is very powerful in the personification of the actors and the time elapsed: in those bodies today apparently "healthy "There is an intense story that the director is building with great skill until she reaches a remarkable climax, leaving her heart tightened with the rock theme that everyone plays in a dramatic end of great force. "Minefield" said a director in total possession of their means to unite different languages and platforms, avoiding the empty drama and playing with the different tones to tell a horror that is always nuanced but not less impressive. A work that opens new expressive paths in the documentary theater around history and memory.