Features Published 8 October 2014

Open CASA

Tamsin Clarke, Vicente Larenas, Jorge Costa & Julia Muzio on presenting work at this year's CASA Latin American Theatre Festival, which opens on Friday.
Natasha Tripney

Tamsin Clarke, Manuelita:

Manuelita is based on the life of Manuela Saenz, a 19th century revolutionary from Ecuador who helped the liberation armies in the South American fight for freedom against the Spanish Crown. The show discusses through comedy, physical story telling and live music the fact that she was written out of the history books and remembered only for her libertine affair with the Liberator, Simon Bolivar. Manuelita is a forgotten heroine reclaiming the revolution for herself – and this piece brings her story to life. It is nice to be able to share this influential story with the Latin American community here in London and also open up Latin American history to those that may not be privy to it.

The Nuestra CASA Scratch gives the opportunity to five Latin American influenced companies/performers to develop 15 minutes of an idea; to perform it, to have help from a professional mentor and receive feedback from an audience, panel of judges and other artists. I think that that opportunity is vital and essential for any creative work’s development. Nuestra CASA gives this focus to a small community/ideas, bringing it out and giving it some theatrical weight in London.

Winning the Scratch gave me the added bonus of a bursary which went towards further development of the show that I had been working on for a few years. It was a much appreciated component of the shows onward journey. My mentor from the scratch Artist-In-Residence Programme, Malu Ansaldo, also played a vital part in that.

Vicente Larenas, Daydream Inn and The Sand Settlers:

These are the first two parts of a trilogy (the third play, which recently premiered, is called El Cantón). The plays are about the Chilean popular idiosyncrasy. They move at breakneck pace and have colourful and hilarious characters; audiences will learn stories from different Chilean latitudes depicting the realities and lifestyles of a people who decided to rise up and change the course of history.

For us it is really important to seize the opportunities brought about by our participation in this festival. We are a young company, eager for experiences like this. We believe in cultural exchange as a way to present discourses from other cultures, which open our minds to the unknown. Our work is local from the point of view of spoken language, but looking at it from the gestural, semiotic point of view, it is full of known images. We think that a festival like this in London is an excellent way to exchange experiences, so that audiences can have access to lots of artistic manifestations of Latin American theatre and so they can learn that Latin America is a region with a lot of history and therefore, there are a lot of things to reflect on, in order to get to know its peoples. We feel privileged to be part of CASA 2014, representing Chile.

Mi.Me

Mi.Me

Jorge Costa & Julia Muzio, Visite Argentina and Mi.Me:

Both plays, Visite Argentina / Come Visit Argentina and Mi.Me /Inside Out. Outside In, are theatrical creations that we have developed whilst exploring physical theatre. Both plays have a strong identity and reflect our need to question the conventional means of expression in indoors theatre. [We are interested in] the things that you cannot do in conventional theatre: breaking the spaces, stepping away from expectations and making the audience’s presence fundamental in the development of the piece.

When we started creating Visite Argentina / Come Visit Argentina, we just let our bodies react to the music. The objective was to present a show in Europe – back in 2007 – and we asked ourselves: “What can we do? What can we talk and laugh about?”  Nothing more so than our own. And we created this dancing farce about the problems of Argentina and its “for export” identity. This is a simplistic rehash of what, inside the boundaries of our country, is called Argentinidad

In Visite Argentina / Come Visit Argentina, we use physical theatre techniques we have been exploring for over 15 years; we work with clowning, slapstick (with its blows and falls), clown-dance, and the corporal language. In Mi.Me /Inside Out. Outside In, the proposition is of “theatrical risk” as the actor is alone, without anything on the stage. He improvises based on what is happening in the room, therefore involving each person present on the night.  It is a very physical show with no words and it transforms the theatrical event into a joint creation, based on the encounter with the audience; accidental sounds, circumstantial objects and even their hearts’ beating together are used to create the piece and travel together by means of our joint imagination.

For us it is a huge honour to be invited to take part in CASA Festival as it allows us to present our work in a European context, among Latin American and Spanish speaking colleagues. Europe being the cradle of physical theatre, it is for us a pleasure to bring a piece from the other side of the world. It is also an honour to be recognised as Latin American artists. To be Latin American for us is an opportunity and a duty to be part of a new language, rooted in the community of which we are a part.

The CASA Latin American Festival runs from 10th-19th October at various venues around London.

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Natasha Tripney

Natasha co-founded Exeunt in 2011 and was editor until 2016. She's now lead critic and reviews editor for The Stage, and has written about theatre and the arts for the Guardian, Time Out, the Independent, Lonely Planet and Tortoise.

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