La Oferta

March 25, 2023

Chilean playwrights explore Pinochet dictatorship, poverty and feminism

Santiago, Jun 4 (EFE).- The dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, poverty and feminism are some of the topics dealt with by Chilean participants in a playwriting project promoted by London’s Royal Court Theater, which seeks to encourage tyro talent from around the world.

This is the third Latin American edition of the program, in which seven young Peruvians are also taking part, and which will guide them all during the year and a half of their creative process until their scripts are ready to be staged.

Around a table at a coffee shop in Santiago, three of the seven Chileans selected shared with EFE the reasons they wanted to write for theater, a pursuit that pretty much lacks any training possibilities in the South American country, as they themselves admitted.

“For every 100 actors there are 10 directors and just one playwright. Very few people dedicate themselves to writing for theater and for that reason there’s a big vacancy in schools that merely focus on acting,” said Alonso Arenas, education director of the Teatro a Mil Foundation, the organization that picked the best creative talent for Chilean theater out of about 100 candidates.

“We don’t have much training in South America, but we have many ideas, political conflicts, a lot of history and memories,” said Arenas, who also believes that the mix of Chilean and Peruvian writers enriches the project.

The 1973-1990 military dictatorship of Pinochet is a recurring theme in contemporary theater plays in the country and young playwrights continue to explore that conflict.

Raul Riquelme, 23, admits he did not personally live through the dictatorship but is writing “La Mujer Maravilla” (Wonder Woman), a play that blends “fantasy with Chilean history.”

For her part, Carla Fuentes, 25, sums up her text as “woman, Latin America and mare,” three territories “exploited and colonized.”

“Latin America is a looted continent and I relate that to the exploiting of women and the figure of the mare, an animal brought to the continent by Columbus and which is now brought to mind by the so-called ‘mare marches,’ feminist demonstrations in which the women march naked, wearing only a tail,” Fuentes said.

Maria Jose Pizarro, 38, is the eldest participant, but shares the concerns of her fellow playwrights and is writing a play about the poverty and inequality in the nation’s capital.

“My work is titled ‘Carpas’ (Tents), a reference to all the tents appearing around Santiago. There are many poor folks camping out in parks, on riverbanks and in front of hospitals,” Pizarro said.

For now, all the would-be playwrights complement their work creating dramas with other jobs, though most are related to the theater world, a very small group in Chile who all say they know each other.

Despite the tough competition to stage their plays before an audience, the young playwrights say they have good relationships with each other because they all have their own individual styles: “We’re all very different.”

“This program, which from London has inspired other countries like Palestine, China, India and Cuba, professionalizes the work of the playwright,” Arenas said.

The Teatro a Mil Foundation also coordinates a program of stage direction to be rolled out this June in Germany with the participation of two young Chilean directors.