Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Teatro 5+6

Unh, bad bloguiste.  Mainly I've fallen behind on teatro, which is a good thing when you think about it.  So here's a two in one.  A couple weeks ago, on a consecutive Friday and Saturday Nick and I went to Timbre 4 (Buzzer 4, it took me a long time to figure that out.)  This is one of the very prominent theatres of the "off" circuit here.  

The Timbre 4 shows were great for Nick and I to see because they've been published in Spanish for me, and translated and published in English (by the awesome Jean Graham-Jones) for Nick.  (Again we found that Nick is perfectly able to watch a play in Spanish if he's read it in translation.)

The joint (it's a real little complex, two theatres, offices, rehearsal room and a café) was founded by a sort of wunderkind named Claudio Tolcachir.  He was a successful young actor (he looks to be very conventionally good looking) but instead of going into telenovelas or something, he started an acting studio in his apartment (hence buzzer 4) and— this is the way things are often done— eventually wrote/developed a play on an ensemble of his actors.

This play is called La Omisión de la Familia Coleman— The Coleman Family's Omission— and it was a huge success.  It toured around the world, including a stop in NYC (and these sorts of things rarely stop in the US— there's this world circuit of touring theatre that the US is largely not a part of, whole nother story.)  

The way plays usually work in Argentina is: the play is the show.  By which I mean, the first production/first cast IS the production/cast, there aren't other productions in other theatres because the show itself tours to these theatres.  Different from the US setup in many interesting ways.

For one thing, Coleman (as it's called here) is about eight years old now, so the cast is getting visibly older than the roles written on them, you have to imagine them a decade younger.  On the other hand, they've been doing this show once a week or more for almost a decade (well, I think they took a couple years off) so it's super hot and tight on the one hand, without on the other hand being stale like a long-running Broadway thing gets from eight shows a week in one place for years.

So, on Friday Nick and I saw the famous Coleman.  I have to say, this is a pretty terrific play.  It's like August: Osage but much much better.  Big sprawling family grotesque comedy-slash-drama.  (El grotesco is very big part of the Argy dramatic tradition.)  Kind of Chekhovian even.  It's very hard to read on the page because there are often five or six people in the room all talking at once about their various shit.  It's dizzying in the best way, and really only makes sense when you see it.  And the fact that these roles were written on the actors basically means that everybody on stage is playing the kind of character that they are the most awesome at playing.  THAT shows.  Every bit, every exchange, was worked up by these very folks and was the very best bit, the one that stuck.  So honestly, one is seeing a high-end level of performance.

And that said, I think Coleman actually stands up as a play that might be performed by other people (for example in Jean's translation.)  I may not know much, but I know I'm going to put together a reading of this in one forum or another when I get home.

The play we saw on Saturday was Tercer Cuerpo (translated in the same book as Coleman as Third Wing).  This was an interesting experience.  It was Tolcachir's sophomore play, written while Coleman was touring the world, and structurally it feels shaggy— which is fine!  I'm not a fascist about structure!— but it doesn't feel like it adds up to quite as much as a play.  And then when you see it— again, the original cast— it makes a TON of sense.  Tolcachir (again) got a handful of really vivid actors together and they all improvised until they found the things they do very best against one another.  And really the play is carefully structured, in ways it's hard to see on the page: it's a 2-person drama on top of a 3-person comedy, and you find out in the end how they connect.  For me, the comedy was great, the drama was dull, and unlike Coleman, I didn't feel like the play would transfer very interestingly onto other actors.

But boy, the two women on the comedy side were HILARIOUS.  (And the old gay guy too.  Old gay guy, you were funny too.)

Side note: Tolcachir, who as I said, is good-looking, likes to work with (and write on) very conventionally handsome guys, and very odd, fascinating "character-looking" women.  It's kind of unexpected, and kind of nice.

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