Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Feature: Marilo Nuñez, artistic director of Alameda Theatre Company, on Chile Con Carne

Exile to Aguirre - breaking through the poetic silence
by Marilo Nuñez, Founder and Artistic Director of Alameda Theatre Company

On September 11, 1973, Chile was seized by one of the worst military dictatorships in the history of Latin America. The democratically elected socialist leader Salvador Allende was ousted and in his place Agusto Pinochet took control and placed the country in a state of terror and violence for over 17 years of totalitarian rule. During the earliest years of repression, thousands of Chileans were tortured, disappeared or executed. Over 40,000 Chileans were exiled, and almost half of those made their way into Canada.
Exile is a poetic silencing of who you are.

I was three months old when my parents arrived in Toronto, on September 9, 1974, almost a year after the military coup. It is difficult to define what that journey from Chile to Canada did to my family. Exile is a poetic silencing of who you are. Forty years later, it still delineates who we are and how we exist in the world today. Like Manuelita in Chile Con Carne, Carmen Aguirre’s poignant and surprisingly hilarious look at exile from a child’s perspective, I was constantly trying hard to define who I was. Trying to fit into a North American mould. And like Manuelita, I have found my voice in the duality of my cultural existence.  I am Canadian. And Chilean. This is the hyphenation that exists for all exiles.  Chile will always pulsate through my veins, even if it is a distorted and idealized Chile of 40 years ago. The Chile that I know is one of forgotten dreams, lost memories and haunting songs from the Unidad Popular. (Which by the way is the soundtrack to Chile Con Carne, along with popular disco tunes of the time.)

Chile Con Carne, even though written almost a decade ago, is still relevant today. Political violence and repression exist in countries all over the world. Even in our own country, our First Nations brothers and sisters are not treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. They are exiles in their own land. The Idle No More movement is the beginning of a long silenced scream beginning to find its rightful voice.

My directorial inspiration for this 2013 production of Chile Con Carne is the Chilean Arpillera. It is a Chilean art movement, which began during the most repressive years of Pinochet’s dictatorship. Groups of women, usually wives, mothers and daughters of the disappeared, would get together to create “cloth art”, small portraits of their world at that time. These 3-D embroidered pieces were created from scraps of cloth, stitched onto large square pieces and then sent outside of Chile (to the exiles). These Arpilleras were then sold to help raise awareness and money to fight the dictatorship. The Arpillera was a powerful political tool, which, along with many other solidarity tactics, was the downfall of one of Latin America’s most brutal dictatorships. It was through art that the most powerful political change began to occur. 

Runs April 2-14

1 comment:

  1. A play that must be seen, universal theme, exile


Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.