Lola Arias
El año en que nací/The year I was born

Under 21


In the foreground, a woman wearing a traditional Mexican shirt and jeans speaks into a microphone. An image of a woman's hands highlighting text in a newspaper is projected in the background.
Lola Arias, El año en que nací Photo: David Alarcón

El año en que nací/The year I was born, by Argentinean playwright Lola Arias, started with a concept: artists born under a dictatorship reconstruct their mothers and fathers lives as they once were. With disarming sincerity, eleven performers born the 1970s and early 1980s during Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile retell their parent’s stories to each other using photographs, letters, cassette tapes, old clothing, anecdotes, and elusive recollections. Each of them remakes scenes from the erased memories of the past to use as portals to understanding an uncertain future: Who were my parents when I was born? What was my country like before I learned to speak? How many versions of past events exist, particularly those that occurred when I was too young to form memories?

Like stunt doubles, the actors don their parents’ clothes and try to represent the lives of those who wore them. Performer by performer, scene by scene, the stories collect and converge until we arrive at critical junctures—the overlapping zones of reality and fiction, the encounter of one generation with another, and the intersection of national history and private stories. Both playful and political, the explorations of El año en que nací/The year I was born reveal complexity and dark secrets alongside the joy and humor of lives recovered.

The performance is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes


The experience shakes you to the core . . . . Recommended for all generations—history is more than learning dates.

—La Segunda


Lola Arias: El año en que nací/The year I was born is generously supported by Lois and Steve Eisen and the Eisen Family Foundation. Support for the presentation is also generously provided by the Consulate General of Argentina in Chicago. Touring support is made possible in part by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile, and by the National Performance Network (NPN) Performing Americas Program. El año en que nací/The year I was born is a production of Fundación Teatro a Mil, Santiago, Chile (FITAM).

Major contributors of National Performance Network (NPN) include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency), the MetLife Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Performing Americas is a partnership between NPN and the Network of Cultural Promoters of Latin America and the Caribbean (La RED), with funding provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. National Performance Network

Performance images

Performance view, Lola Arias, El año en que nací/The year I was born, MCA Chicago, Jan 22, 2014 Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

About the artist

Lola Arias (b. 1976) is a writer, director, performer, and songwriter. She is the cofounder of Compañía Postnuclear, an Argentinean group of interdisciplinary artists. Her texts explore the boundaries between reality and fiction, using biographies and real documentation in a surreal or poetic way. She works with actors, musicians, dancers, children, babies, animals, and people who have never before performed onstage. Inher work Striptease (2007), a baby occupies the center of the stage while the parents duel by telephone. In El amor es un francotirador (2007), the performers relate true and fictional love stories while a rock band plays live. Her projects with artist/director Stefan Kaegi are Chácara Paraíso (2007), involving Brazilian police officers, and Airport Kids (2008), featuring global nomads aged between 7 and 13. In 2010–12, she curated a festival of urban interventions, titled Ciudades Paralelas, in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Warsaw, Zurich, and Singapore. Together with Ulises Conti, she composes and plays music, and has released the albums El amor es un francotirador (2007) and Los que no duermen (2011).

Arias’s theater works have been translated into German, English, and French. Her works have been performed internationally at festivals including Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Festival d’Avignon; In Transit Festival, Berlin; We are here, Dublin; Spielart Festival, Munich; Alkantara Festival, Lisbon; and Radicals Festival, Barcelona.

Learn more about Lola Arias.