Pensotti has a fine facility with irony, with the fine balance between comedy and tragedy.
—British Theatre Guide
One of Latin America’s foremost experimental theater artists, Argentine writer-director Mariano Pensotti makes his Chicago debut with his boldly innovative “filmic drama” in which art and life unfold simultaneously—and the distinction between them blurs.
On a two-level stage, four film crews meet, argue, and shoot four different films in Buenos Aires, seemingly oblivious to one another, while the filmmakers’ own stories unfold on the second level. Pensotti directs five actors in all the roles and conceived the color-saturated stage as two floors—like the split screen of a film. By ingeniously adapting cinematic techniques—flashback, montage, cross-cuts, voice-over—he tells compelling stories about intertwined strangers’ love, loss, joy, and despair. Is life informing art? Or is it the other way around? In Cineastas, it becomes tantalizingly unclear where imagination ends and reality begins.
Cineastas took shape in the course of interviews Pensotti conducted with the many filmmakers working out of his hometown of Buenos Aires, partly out of curiosity about the city’s ballooning film economy. Intrigued by the ties between their personal lives and their public works, Pensotti plied them with increasingly personal questions about what happened while working on their films. Eventually he interviewed a wider range of people, interrogating how the fictions they consume have shaped their lives.
While cinema captures a moment, freezing it in time, theater exists in transient, fleeting moments. This brilliant work builds upon the creative friction between the two.
With Cineastas, which premiered in Berlin last year, Pensotti makes his Chicago debut.
The performance is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Running time: 105 minutes
This tour of Mariano Pensotti: Cineastas is made possible through Southern Exposure: Performing Arts of Latin America, a program of Mid Atlantic Art Foundation in partnership with National Endowment for the Arts and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.
Additional generous support is provided by the Consulate General of Argentina in Chicago and the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago (CLAS).
Mariano Pensotti is sponsored by El Cultural San Martín and the city of Buenos Aires.
Cineastas is a masterpiece . . . an absolute necessity. Beautiful theater that endures.
Artists Up Close
MCA Studio Open Doors
Wed, Feb 25, 2–4 pm
Museum visitors are invited to come and go from the theater to observe the artists working on the production Cineastas.
Thu, Feb 26
After the performance, mingle in the lobby with Mariano Pensotti and the cast of Cineastas. A cash bar and snacks are available. Theater Thursdays is a citywide promotion organized by the League of Chicago Theatres.
MCA Talk: Mariano Pensotti
Fri, Feb 27, post show
Audience members are invited to stay at the end of the performance for a conversation with Mariano Pensotti and collaborators, moderated by Yolanda Cesta Cursach.
About the artist
Mariano Pensotti has garnered international acclaim for creating theater that centers on the tension between fiction and reality. With more than 15 works in the past 10 years, he has become one of the most noted experimental directors in the world and one of Latin America's brightest theater talents. Pensotti creates both script-based, actor-centric theater written for the stage and site-specific performances for public places. In The Past Is a Grotesque Animal, 10 years in the lives of four characters take place on a stage that slowly rotates to a soundtrack including music from the band Of Montreal. In Sometimes I Think I Can See You, authors in public spaces write about what they’re seeing in real time while their words are projected onto a large screen; as passersby become part of the story, they have the power to change it. Pensotti studied cinema, visual arts, and theater in Argentina, Italy, and Spain. He graduated from Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Rogelio Yrurtia in Buenos Aires, where he lives. His works have been performed throughout Europe and North America, and his texts have been translated into more than 20 languages. Learn more about Mariano Pensotti.